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ClearText from Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute
ClearText 2011, No. 7 March 28, 2011

Prerequisites for Training & National Certification—Why and When?

Fourteen levels of national certification offered by the Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute require other levels of training or certification prior to certification (prerequisites). Levels of certification and their corresponding prerequisites are:


Certification Level

Fire Fighter 1
Fire Fighter 2
Airport Fire Fighter
Driver/Operator—ARFF
Driver/Operator—Pumper
Driver/Operator—Aerial
Fire Officer 1
Fire Officer 2
Hazardous Materials Awareness
Hazardous Materials Operations
Hazardous Materials Technician
Fire Inspector 1
Fire Instructor 1
Fire Instructor 2
Structural Collapse Rescue—Levels 1 & 2**
Confined Space Rescue—Levels 1 & 2
Rope Rescue—Level 1
Rope Rescue—Level 2


Prerequisite Certification and/or Level

None*
Fire Fighter 1
Fire Fighter 2
Airport Fire Fighter & Fire Fighter 2
Fire Fighter 1
Fire Fighter 1
Fire Fighter 2 & Instructor 1
Fire Officer 1
None
Hazardous Materials Awareness
Hazardous Materials Operations
None
None
Fire Instructor 1
Chapter 5, NFPA 1006 Standard**
Chapter 5, NFPA 1006 Standard**
Chapter 5, NFPA 1006 Standard**
Rope Rescue—Level 1

* Fire Fighter I includes the requirements of Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations training and certification.
** Structural Collapse and Confined Space Rescue—Levels 1 and 2 are taught and tested as one combined course within the KF&RTI system. Level 1 certification for Structural Collapse and/or Confined Space Rescue as a stand-alone certification is not available.

Prerequisites must be completed prior to certification at the prescribed level. It is also critical that the candidate complete prerequisite training prior to attending the training course. For example, if you seek training and certification for Fire Officer 1, you should attend training and complete certification for Fire Fighter 1, Fire Fighter 2, and Instructor 1 before attending a Fire Officer 1 course.

Although the chart above may be a little daunting, if you track only the requirements for a single certification, you’ll find that it really isn’t that complicated and what the standard is imposing is nothing more than a natural sequence of certifications.

Figure 1KF&RTI has allowed firefighters to attend courses without first attending the prerequisite courses in the past. This has created many hardships for the participants and the instructors. Prerequisite courses provide a background level of knowledge that is necessary for successful completion of those courses for which the prerequisite has been designated. When allowed to attend a course without the prerequisites, students don’t have the necessary background information to be successful. Instructors are forced to either lengthen the course to cover the material, or deal with students who simply aren’t prepared for class. Taking the courses out of sequence is much like selecting a site and building a house, then trying to pour the foundation after the house is built!

Institute courses are designed for delivery in a specific number of hours. If prerequisite information was covered (in addition to the course material) the course would often double, or triple, in length. When participants are allowed to attend a course without having met the prerequisites, they play “catch up” throughout the course. History has proven that this is too much for the participant to overcome. Most times these candidates do not score well on the certification exam. The outcome is a frustrated candidate who feels that he or she has wasted valuable time and frequently unfairly blames the instructor or the certification exam.

The obvious solution to this dilemma is to complete the prerequisite courses (and certification exam) before taking the primary course. By taking the courses in order, you will ensure that you have the necessary background information and preparation for the more advanced level.

The Institute has chosen not to enforce a hard requirement to complete prerequisites prior to attending a training class. We would much prefer that firefighters recognize the potential problems and follow the prescribed sequence implied by the prerequisites. By not placing an iron-clad rule on the process, we can allow for extenuating circumstances and allow local fire departments to select what works for them, but be forewarned: attending a course without first meeting the prerequisite is the hard way—and your chances for success are greatly reduced!

For national certifications, the prerequisites and sequences are “Iron-Clad.” Individuals MUST attain the prerequisite certifications prior to being awarded any certification. The only time we allow this out-of-sequence process to occur is for the training only. If someone takes a course without meeting the prerequisite, he or she must certify at the prerequisite level(s) prior to being certified at the advanced level. For example, if someone attends a Fire Officer I course and takes and passes the Fire Officer Certification exam, that individual must complete certification for Fire Fighter I, Fire Fighter II and Fire Instructor I before being awarded the Fire Officer I certification. Don’t forget that the results of any certification exam are only good for one year. If it takes that person more than one year to complete the prerequisites, he or she will have to take the Fire Officer exam again—more reason to take the courses and certify in the recommended sequence.

The Institute will continue monitoring this process and participant results in the courses and on the certification exam and make necessary changes. We ask for your help in securing success by following the recommended paths to advanced levels of training and certification.


Have questions? Need a presenter for your next county meeting? Would you like someone to come to your next function to make a presentation to learn what the Institute can do for you? The Kansas Fire & Rescue Training Institute would be pleased to come and talk to your organization. Call or send an e-mail with details of date, time, location and a local contact person (and phone number). We'll be in touch to confirm our attendance.

Call 866-804-8841 or send an e-mail to KUFIRE@ku.edu. Ask for Glenn Pribbenow or any Program Manager.

Have a topic you want to see addressed? Send your idea to KUFIRE@ku.edu!


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