Implementing a Certification Program for Your Department

How does your department measure the competency of its firefighters?


  1. Contact your authorized certifying agency. Develop a relationship and begin to identify the certification process.
  2. Understand the certification process and identify it for your department and all its members.
  3. Develop a certification policy for your department:
    • Entry-level for firefighter candidates.
    • Training academy certifications.
    • Incumbent certification.
    • Tying certification to the promotional process.
    • Levels of certification. (Will it begin with new firefighters on a certain date, or will it be required for incumbent firefighters? Will the certification levels be implemented all at once or over a period of time.)
  4. Sell it to your department: through planning and development by firefighters at all levels of your department.
  5. Certification testing and proctoring must always be done by an independent third-party.
  6. For the promotional process determine the value of certification, experience, tenure, and promotional testing; and how this meets your local, state, and union statutes and contracts.
  7. Evaluate the budget requirements and effects of a certification program. Then implement budget changes to meet the need. Provide the resources to make it happen!
  8. Consider the future consequences of the certification policies your department implements! Make considered changes down the road when they are needed.

There is much to consider in implementing a certification program for your department. It requires planning, resources and quality implementation. It will professionalize your department in the eyes of the fire service and in the eyes of your community. It is one way, an excellent way, to measure where your department is; only if it is designed, implemented, and administered with integrity and consideration.