NFPA Rescue Certifications Don’t Exist (Plus 5 Other Facts You Should Know)

NFPA rescue certifications are something we get asked about regularly by aspiring fire fighters. Can they get an NFPA rope certification? How long is an NFPA swiftwater certification? Can they be a certified NFPA rescue technician?

Here are some facts to give clarity to the confusion:

FACT: NFPA Certifications Don’t Exist

While it sure sounds great, no one can become an “NFPA certified” rescue technician.  

The NFPA writes standards, and it is up to training providers to develop curriculum compliant with the NFPA.  As a rescuer, you can get an “NFPA compliant” course, but not a “certified” course.   For example, when you take your Technical Rope Rescue Technician course with us, you’re taking a course that we meticulously developed in partnership with Rescue 3 International to meet and exceed NFPA 2500 standards.  

When you finish a rope course with us, you’ll be certified as a Rescue 3 International Technicial Rope Rescue Technician, who meets and exceeds NFPA standards.  And because Rescue 3 International’s rescue standards surpass those of the NFPA, rescue professionals today are seeking to meet the higher standard of Rescue 3 International, not just general NFPA standards.

Fun Bonus Fact! Here’s Where ProBoard and IFSAC Fit In

After completing such an NFPA compliant course, some technicians seek out a verification of their ability to perform the skills taught during that NFPA compliant training.  

This verification, achieved by undergoing an examination hosted by a third-party (such as ProBoard or IFSAC), confirms that the technician can indeed perform all of the job performance requirements as outlined in the standard taught to during their “compliant” course.  This third-party evaluation is really the best the industry has to offer to verify a technician’s skills and abilities at that moment in time.

Buyer beware: It’s up to you to determine if the training you’re signing up is really going to prepare you for the work you want to do.  No 8×11-certification-suitable-for-framing (… and not even any skill sheet with an itemized list of skills) can take the place of cutting-edge curriculum developed by international rescue professionals and delivered by expert instructors.

FACT: Dogs Can Be NFPA Compliant Too

It’s a running joke that anything could say it’s NFPA compliant – even your dog. 

But compliance is not as easy to claim as it sounds, and here’s why: not only are there over 300 NFPA standards (and counting) that are revised and updated on a regular basis, but these standards are peppered with cross references from other regulatory bodies, whose publications are undergoing their own updates and revisions on a regular basis. 

That is a lot of reading, and not everyone digs reading standards.

This is Delph. If any dog is NFPA compliant, it’s her. Follow her at @adventure.vizsla on Instagram.

FACT: You Don’t Have To Read Them All

Of the 300+ standards developed by the NFPA, there are three that are particularly relevant to all rescuers:

NFPA 1006: Want to verify that your individual technical rescue skills meet minimum job performance requirements, as defined by the NFPA?  This is the standard that you can test yourself against by signing up for an exam hosted by a third party, like ProBoard.

NFPA 2500: What used to be 1670 and 1983 have been combined into 2500. This new combined standard helps agencies guide their technical rescue training, equipment and operations and determines minimum performance requirements for life safety rope and technical equipment, and often serves as a guideline for determining which equipment should be used in a given circumstance. It also outlines testing and certification standards for manufactures.

FACT: You Can Get The NFPA Online

NFPA standards are available online and in print.  

The online version is free.  They can’t be downloaded, and can only be viewed one page at a time, but hey – they’re free.  Also, you’ll need to sign up for a free membership in order to access the free standards online.

You can buy the print version of any standard for your personal library from the NFPA online catalog.  

FACT: Standards Are Regularly Revised

Standards undergo scheduled revisions. This means that the information you read is as current as it’s going to get. Over 7,000 volunteer committee members with a wide range of professional expertise contribute to these scheduled revisions.

No NFPA Rescue Certifications… But That’s OK

While you won’t find NFPA rescue certifications to put on your resume, that’s ok. Now you know that’s not what you really need anyway!

Still foggy on how to interpret what you need? Contact us to discuss your specific situation.