Transition from Ontario Fire Services Standards to NFPA Professional Qualifications Standards

Communiqué du commissaire des incendies

Transition from Ontario Fire Services Standards to NFPA Professional Qualifications Standards

Communiqué 2013-04

April 12, 2013

Since the late 1980s, the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has been instrumental in the development of the professionalization process of the Ontario fire service. In partnership with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and in collaboration with fire service stakeholders, a unique training and educational system was established based on the Ontario Fire Services Standards, a set of nine comprehensive job performance standards.

Over the years, Ontario’s professionalization model received numerous accolades and international recognition for being exemplary and a blueprint for career path planning for firefighters. The nine competency-based standards were used to form the basis for a comprehensive pre-service training program, as well as the firefighter curriculum, the Fire Prevention Officer Diploma program, the Company Officer Diploma program, and the Training Officer Diploma program.

In partnership with the OAFC and other important stakeholders such as the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA) and the Fire Fighters Association of Ontario (FFAO), the OFM is revamping the current professionalization model in order to build on its previous success, and at the same time take into account the current challenges facing Ontario’s fire service and continue to fulfil its responsibilities under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.

To that end, the decision was made that Ontario would adopt the National Fire Protection Association Professional Qualifications (NFPA Pro-Qual) Standards. Working closely with the OAFC and other stakeholders, the OFM is undertaking a review of the current standards model in order to determine how to transition from the Ontario Fire Services Standards to the NFPA standards for professional qualifications. The OFM expects to complete this review prior to the re-accreditation site visits by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) and ProBoard in the spring and fall of 2014.

The transition to NFPA professional qualifications standards will cause no negative impact on Ontario Fire College graduates, candidates being trained according to the current firefighter curriculum or students currently enrolled in diploma programs or pre-service programs. No candidates will be asked to start over in any program. Recognition will be given for training and education completed as well as for work experience already acquired.

With respect to grandfathering, it is the intent to recognize the capabilities and past training accomplishments of all Ontario fire service personnel without compromising the certification system and without granting a certification level to a person who has not satisfied the training, experience, and qualifications requirements.

Persons who have received Ontario certification and/or training from a training facility not accredited by the IFSAC before April 1, 2014, will have to submit to the OFM, through their respective fire department and with the approval of their fire chief, a grandfathering application, a copy of the Ontario certification, a copy of the course completion certificate, and the course material before December 31, 2014, in order to receive certification. After December 31, 2014, all individuals requesting certification will have to take both written and practical skill tests.

Grandfathering based on work experience will require proof of knowledge and skills. The onus will be on the fire chief to submit the required signed knowledge and skills documents. The OFM reserves the right to randomly audit any submission for grandfathering based on work experience, in accordance with IFSAC rules and regulations.

As a result of Ontario’s decision to adopt the NFPA Professional Qualification Standards, the Fire Marshal will give an OFM certificate of equivalency to candidates who meet the requirements for grandfathering.

The OFM consulted the OAFC, the OPFFA and the FFAO, and received their support for the transition. The OFM is committed to work with these associations and other fire service stakeholders to continue to have an exemplary professionalization model while transitioning to the NFPA Professional Qualifications Standards.

A certification policies and procedures manual, currently under development, will provide details about grandfathering and be available to all fire departments in the fall of 2013.

A questions and answers document about the transition to NFPA Professional Qualifications Standards and grandfathering conditions is attached. Enquiries about these topics should be directed to the Academic Manager, Ontario Fire College, who can be reached by telephone at (705) 687-9651.

Attachment

Questions and Answers