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Firefighter Certification Levels

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Firefighting technology and techniques advanced rapidly in the last few decades of the 20th century. The discipline of fire science was established and formal certificate and degree programs were developed during this period. The variety of modern fire-fighting certificate programs has also grown dramatically, ranging from basic certificates such as Firefighter I and Rescue Technician to advanced certifications including Fire Officer I-IV, Fire Inspector I-III, Fire Instructor I-III and Hazmat Incident Commander. Certifications are based on National Fire Protection Association standards. The exact name of a certification varies based on the awarding organization, and the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress accredits certification organizations.

Firefighter I and II Certifications

Firefighter I and II certification programs teach you the basics and are designed to meet NFPA Standard 1001. Introductory firefighter programs typically cover fire service history, fire department organization, firefighter safety, basic rescue operations, personal protective equipment, fire control operations and fire behavior and combustion. Firefighter II certification programs include additional training in structural fire control and rescue operations, as well as fire and life safety initiatives, preparedness, and maintenance.

Rescue Technician Certifications

The basic certification in this area is called Rescue Technician, and you can also Earn Rescue Technician I and II certifications. Earning all three rescue technician standards fully complies with NFPA Standard 1006. These certification programs teach you techniques for rope and confined space rescues, vehicle and machinery rescues, and trench and structural collapse rescues.

Fire Inspector I-III Certifications

Fire inspectors inspect commercial and residential buildings to ensure compliance with all safety regulations and fire and building codes. Fire Inspector I-III certification programs are designed to instruct students in all topics covered in NFPA Standard 1031. Topics covered in Firefighter I-III certification programs include fire prevention techniques, fire protection systems and fire protection in building construction. Fire inspector certification programs also include sections on federal, state, county and city fire codes.

Fire Officer I-IV Certifications

A fire officer, or fire safety officer, is a senior firefighter who supervises rank and file firefighters, evaluates operational procedures to improve efficiency and enforce regulations and helps plan and carry out fire department training programs. Fire Officer I-IV certification programs are designed to cover the curriculum outlined in NFPA Standard 1021, including fire administration and finance, public relations, community fire mitigation and protection and emergency and disaster incident management.


Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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