National Fire Question Report

Please see the outline below

Read Carefully and address all 6 questions numbered below in your written report

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IFSAC – International Fire Service Accreditation Congress

ISO – Insurance Services Office

NFPA – National Fire Prevention Association

Over the years we have seen the requirement for students to become certified and all of you have agreed to the foregoing statement based upon your written assignments.

We have seen development and marketing of learning institutions, indicating originally that they instructed to the NFPA standards and their graduates are certified to the NFPA standards based upon the program delivered. Now we see learning academies and fire schools advertise that their graduates are certified, note the difference.

Then eventually for marketing and to ensure a quality teaching product, and to have the ability to charge more per student and or organization, organizations were formed to audit and certify learning institutes and to ensure that the are indeed meeting the NFPA standards not only as to its intent but as it is actually written. The audit looks at a rather large number of criteria. I am not going to insult your intelligence here and list the criteria, and if all is in order the certifying body places their approval seal on the facility. This in turn opens the doors for more students.

1. So do we have a problem? Well maybe not just one.

You see some of these certifying bodies i.e. Pro Board and or IFSAC, more on them later, have appointed a local authority to be their overseer to ensure standards are maintained in accordance with their lovely seal that they have blessed the learning institution with.

In some scenarios, the local authority is in competition with other learning institutions within its own local jurisdiction where it is the ultimate certifying body. Thus it will not permit its competition to have the seal of approval because it could impact on their own survival.

Now we have a teaching and learning dilemma for students who attend those community colleges or fire schools who do not have that all elusive seal of the Pro Board or IFSAC. However, these students do attend a community college or fire school that instructs and certifies to and in some cases exceed NFPA XXXX requirements.

In one province, the provincial fire marshal’s office is the holder of the certifying organization’s seal. This particular jurisdiction also runs its own fire school, which is in competition with other learning institutions. The difference is, the community colleges will accept all students who meet their entrance requirements, the fire marshal owned and operated school will accept you only if you are already a member of a fire department.

2. Another question, why are there two certifying bodies? Is one better than the other. Why can there not be one body such as an organization similar to that of ISO?

3. If we only hire students that are either Pro Board or IFSAC certified, and not hire those who are not certified as per the previous two organizations, are we ensuring ourselves of the best candidate?

The previous issues have led to some unique resolves, for example you see one province piggy backing on another’s certification. The back door approach. This has also led to some challenges. When the program calls for a six month embedding of the students with the local fire departments, some unions have indicated if they are not from a recognized certifying organization they will not participate in the ride along programs.

This places the HR department or the fire department in a dilemma. I know we have all been in a similar position where you have to make a decision on a hire and you like what you see in one person and not so much in another, yet the not so likely person has that super seal and the other does not.
4. What to do?

I witnessed a selection process where a gentleman with many courses from a highly recognized and established emergency services training facility and many years of hands on experience, with no super seal loose a position to a very young candidate, with little or no experience but had the super seal. The reason, the selection criteria established the super seal criteria as a minimum.

5. I have a number of questions but the most pressing is do the certifying bodies guarantee potential employers that they are obtaining the best trained and knowledgeable candidate for our community?

6.If we hire, and the candidate has knowledge base shortcomings is there a refund, a written guarantee, if not should there be?

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