Firefighter 1 certification is one of the most basic classes to help a prospective candidate obtain a firefighter certificate or part of a 2-yr. fire science degree. Many firefighter candidates wonder what type of classes to take. The reality is, there is no single path to landing the prized firefighter position. What you need to remember is that you need to have a basic plan, be efficient with your time, and find ways to stand out from the competition. Obtaining Firefighter 1 certification is one of the bare minimum classes you should complete. Getting Firefighter 2 certification and a 2-yr. degree in fire science would be even better. Remember for every one spot there are hundreds of other applicants looking to join the firefighter brotherhood.
A little history of NFPA and NFPA 1001 – Standard for Firefighter Professional Qualifications
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international non-profit organization founded in 1896 with the goal of reducing fire risk and other hazards. They have developed over 300 widely adopted fire codes. NFPA 1001 Standard for Firefighter Professional Qualifications is one of 300 fire codes. You should be familiar with NFPA 1001 in the early stage of your career. The code is fairly short at 28 pages and defines the basic requirements for Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 certification. The codes are updated periodically with the most recent NFPA 1001 update in 2008. This post will focus on basic Firefighter 1 requirements. We will have a future post on Firefighter 2 requirements.
At Level 1, you should know all general knowledge and skill requirements in 5.1, all job performance requirements (JPRs) in 5.2 – 5.5, and all other requirements in Chap. 5. In addition Chapters 4, 5 and Sec. 6.6 of NFPA 472, Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents.
Chapter 5 of NFPA 1001 (2013) is dedicated to Firefighter 1 requirements and is a whopping 4 pages long. Not much reading and in general the fire codes are very boring to read. The following are highlights of Chapter 5 and its 5 sub-sections.
A few definitions in NFPA 1001 to keep in mind.
1) Firefighter 1 – is a person at the first level of progression demonstrating knowledge and skills to function as an integral member of a firefighting team under direct supervision in hazardous conditions.
2) Requisite Knowledge – Fundamental knowledge one must have in order to perform a specific task. (Operating procedures, etiquette)
3) Requisite Skills – The essential skills one must have in order to perform a specific task. (Tying a knot, climbing a ladder)
Covers general qualifications, understanding the fire department organization,standard operating procedures, knot type and usage, hoisting methods, ability to don protective clothing within one minute, hoist tools and equipment and using ropes.
5.2 Fire Dept. Communications
Covers initiating response, receiving phone calls, fire department communications equipment and use according to job performance requirements (JPR).
5.3 Fireground Operations
Covers performance activities to ensure life safety, emergency traffic, and evacuation signals. This includes the use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), forced entry, exiting hazardous areas, ground ladders, passenger vehicle fires, extinguish fires in exterior Class A materials, search and rescue, attacking interior structure fires, horizontal and vertical ventilation, overhaul fire scene with personal protective equipment, property conservation with salvage equipment, connecting fire department pumper to a water supply, emergency scene illumination, shut-down of building utilities, and fire combat as a team member.
5.4 Rescue Operations
This section has no requirement for Firefighter 1. This is another one of those weird items that you can run into with NFPA fire codes. They have a section reserved for this, yet no requirement. Section 5.4 is reserved in Firefighter 2. Maybe we need to join a technical committee to understand their reasoning and logic.
5.5 Prevention, Preparedness, and Maintenance.
Covers duties that reduce the loss of life and property due to fire response readiness according to the JPR’s. This includes cleaning and checking ladders, ventilation equipment, ropes, SCBA, and hand tools.
Remember that NFPA Codes are difficult to read and NFPA 1001 is no exception. This was a general outline of Chap. 5, Firefighter 1. If you need any help interpreting this code, feel free to drop a comment and we’ll do our best to help.