'At the Region' is an ongoing feature that discusses the state-by-state training, certification and employment requirements, and reciprocity of first responder departments across the nation. This section looks at the history and development of first responder standards, and spotlights the way that small departments integrate local specialties into national regulations. In this issue, we look at Region II, New York and New Jersey Fire Service Certification.
The New York Office of Fire Prevention and Control offers two types of certification for firefighters; national and state. National certification is most likely to be accepted by other jurisdictions if firefighters wish to transfer, while State certification in certain areas is required for career firefighters working in departments with a staff size larger than six. To obtain certification, applicants must pass a written and/or practical examination. State specific Certifications are here . National Certification information can be found here. Applicants who wish to become firefighters in New York departments that fall under the Firefighting and Code Enforcement Training and Standards must meet minimum guidelines provided by the State in addition to department requirements.
The minimum standards include that applicants must:
• Meet residency requirements (as set by individual departments)
• Take the Civil Service Test for firefighters
• Pass an agility test and a physical exam
• Be reachable as vacancies are being filled and be selected as a probationary firefighter
• Meet all training requirements within the department’s specified time frame
For Volunteer Firefighters
• Meet residence requirements, if they exist.
• Meet the active membership requirements or bylaws of the entity or organization.
• Successfully complete required probation or training needs.
Volunteer fire departments provide:
• Injury compensation under The Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law.
• Company- and state-sponsored training.
• Social/organizational benefits.
• Retirement incentives in some departments.
Reciprocity is offered for firefighters in New York who meet educational requirements equivalent to NFPA standards. Training is accepted if it has been certified by agencies accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (Pro Board) or the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC). If the training does not meet these requirements, applicants will be required to complete national certification testing by the Office of Fire Prevention and Control or another agency accredited by either the Pro Board or IFSAC for the training to be considered equivalent. To determine if an applicant’s training meets the requirements for testing, proof of completion and course information should be sent to:
NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control,
99 Washington Avenue, Suite 500,
Albany, N.Y. 12210-2833
Many Firefighter departments in New Jersey require that applicants pass the State Civil Service Examination. Entry level exams cost $35 and are held every two to four years. Volunteer firefighters serving for at least two years receive extra points on the exam, with the total years of service plus one point credited to the final total (e.g. three years of service would receive four points, four years would receive five, etc), with a maximum of ten points possible. Veterans are automatically grouped at the top of the employment list by status, and then by average score. “In order to be awarded service credit points, you must complete the volunteer Fire Fighter section on the online application. You will have to indicate the fire district or part-paid municipal fire department where you currently volunteer. If you volunteer at more than one district or department, send this information to FireFighter@csc.nj.gov. Information regarding all volunteer service will be verified with the Fire Chief/Appointing Authority of your district/department.” See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
The 2015 testing updates were effective March 3, 2016, The most recent exam cycle for an Entry-Level Fire Fighter “announcement closed on August 31, 2015. Testing took place in October and November, 2015. The 2015 Entry-Level Fire Fighter lists issued on March 3, 2016. Physical performance testing will be conducted on a pass/fail basis at the time of certification. This testing will continue, as the need arises, for the duration of the eligible lists.” http://www.state.nj.us/csc/seekers/jobs/safety/index.html
In order to be eligible for the exam,
• applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 35,
• possess a high school diploma or GED,
• and meet state and jurisdictional residency requirements.
• Many departments also require that applicants hold a CPR certification and pass preliminary physical and psychiatric exams.
In order to be eligible for certification, applicants who are selected for hire by a department must be at least
• 18 years of age and
• successfully complete a Firefighter I recruit training course approved by the Office of Training and Certification.
• To obtain a Firefighter II certification, applicants must have obtained Firefighter I, complete an approved Firefighter II training, and pass the Firefighter II certification exam provided by the Office of Training and Certification.
**PLEASE NOTE- As of this 2017 Update, portions of the NJ website is migrating to: New Jersey Civil Service job
Applicants wishing to transfer to New Jersey may be required by their hiring department to pass the Civil Service Examination regardless of experience or training. It is then at the discretion of the department to review all training and certification records, and to waive part or all academy requirements based on experience or testing. Contact the department of interest prior to transfer to review their policy on lateral hires.