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The Question
by FR1 Community

Should firefighters be required to recertify each year like EMTs?

We gathered the most compelling responses and invite you to join in by adding your own opinion in the comment section below

By FireRescue1 Staff

Certifications are a measurable way of demonstrating and maintaining our skills, even if they may seem like a lot of work.

We asked readers on Facebook to share their opinions on if firefighters should be required to recertify each year like EMTs. We gathered the most compelling responses and shared them below.

We now invite you to join in by adding your own opinion in the comment section below.

"If your department is doing training the way they are supposed to be, then you shouldn't have to." — Clinton Gibbens

"That would be the end of volunteers." — Nick Seiden

"Yes. Refreshment courses and updates are always helpful — even to a 31-year veteran like myself. New tactics and equipment always need in-service training and lets you get a feel for the new equipment." — John M Finnigan

"It wouldn’t be a bad idea for career firefighters. Maybe every five years for career and every two years for volunteer firefighters." — C.J. Marin

"Specialized skills like hazmat, rope, confined space and water rescue have to be refreshed every year. Some type of live burn training at least once a year isn't a bad idea; most departments already do this annually anyway." — Danny Williams

"Recertification’s should be per department based on the number of calls. Smaller departments with fewer calls should need a recertification every 2-3 years. Big city departments that handle more fire calls in a year should be every 5 years." — Jim Barrella

"The last thing I need is one more thing to stress about after 240 hours of fire training per year, 72 hours of EMS training per year, two jobs totaling to about 90 hours per week, the additional classes I take on my personal time and a family to take care of." — Tyler Morris

"Yes. I have seen so many firefighters that don’t go to classes and are stuck with what they learned as a rookie 20-30 years ago. Weekly training is great, but you need outside classes — especially in the volunteer department. " — Gregg Egbers

"Absolutely. The fire service is just as dynamic as EMS." — Austin J Woolsey


We also polled our readers here and the results can be seen below.

About the author

"The Question" section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on Quora, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on FR1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of FR1.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Sean Bravener Sean Bravener Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:39:58 AM if you are taking the classes and such during the hours you spend should be considered CME type credits and x amount of cme's are equivalent to taking the recert test. however if you are not on the job taking credits then yes you should have to recertify every few years as FF1 or 2. This would prevent crew from going out on some sort of leave and then just coming right back after 12-18 months of leave and stepping right back on the truck (and endangering lives potentially)
John Hale John Hale Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:35:30 AM I volunteer and my current job requires I do a yearly update on the products we sell and repair. its a couple hrs on the computer. So to covert this to the fire service it would be nice to be able to do some type of in firehouse updates for new tactics and equipment and keep it to a day or less. Now the hands on part I think every 2-3yrs fro volunteer and every 4-5 for career firefighters.
Dan Dawson Dan Dawson Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:41:45 PM I'm already limited on the time I have for continuous ed. To have to recert every year would do me in. Isnt the training my department does enough? Why not just kill volunteer departments and make them all paid , I mean that's what they are trying to do anyway
Phyllis A. Mosley Phyllis A. Mosley Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:44:24 PM Ky firefighters must get 20 training hours to stay certified and a certain percentage of each department must be recertified to receive state aide. We use both in house trainers and KCTCS to do training.
Mary Saag Mary Saag Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:59:48 PM they train on a weekly base. so no I don't think they should have to recert like a EMT I was both at one time so I know what goes into both training area
Gerry Ford Gerry Ford Sunday, April 27, 2014 1:08:18 PM The question presumes that EMS re-cert is actually necessary. Someone should conduct a serious independent study as to whether EMS re-cert is necessary. I believe neither is necessary as long as you are training regularly.
Gary Carter Gary Carter Sunday, April 27, 2014 1:44:44 PM I do not like the requirement for continuing education for fire service. The biggest problem is with a volunteer service to attempt to get 24 hour coverage we have people working all shifts. It is very hard for to make set training schedules. Weekends also don't work good as we all have families that think we need time with them, after spending 40+ hours a week at our real jobs. For a paid department it is easier as they can do training while on the job. But, that is what Iowa Fire Fighters Association and the union is all about. Ending volunteer fire fighting in Iowa to create more paid positions.
David Levin David Levin Sunday, April 27, 2014 1:50:57 PM I think a type of recertification is necessary. The bigger issue is how to logistically accomplish a stardardized way of doing that. The way EMS does it works for them but maybe not for the fire service. Proficiency exams could work. Maybe that meet certain criteria, yet can be written to meet both department standards and national/state standards. It could be up to each department to make and deliver and submit these proficiency exams. Thats one option. ..... out of hundreds.
Thomas Hudon Thomas Hudon Sunday, April 27, 2014 1:58:54 PM I'm a volunteer firefighter,,,we drill every week,,,EVERY WEEK!!!! Refresher courses would be nice,,,but full out recertification is not needed and will drive volunteers out the door,,,it's hard enough to get a couple people a year ( if we are lucky ) to join,,,doing this would end the volunteer service for sure,,,,and sorry folks,,,,we in the rural sector can't afford more taxes to start paying for career firefighters,,,we are overtaxed and underfunded as it is. Weekly drills are the key,,,close attention to training and attendance is key. Making laws that allow more reward for volunteers would make things better,,,,and education for the public that think we are just there to blow sirens and hangout at the firehouse.
Douglas Fee Douglas Fee Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:02:43 PM In regards to EMS re-certification, we go to various training courses including in house training and outside training for CEU's and then we file a piece of paper every couple of years to prove that we have attended training. We aren't required to test every few years only send in the paper work proving that we have been training. There is no reason that this couldn't happen the exact same way with a firefighting certification. Any person or department who isn't training enough to be able to prove 50-100 hours every few years (Volunteer or Career) probably isn't doing enough to keep themselves squared away to do the job, period. As for sending in a couple pages of info to a state fire marshal or other administrative agency to actually re-certify goes, who cares, it's a fax, it's not that hard people.
Erin Davitt Erin Davitt Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:05:32 PM As volunteer wildland firefighters we do a re-cert every year, but for structure certs esp IFSAC it would be incredibly expensive to re-cert yearly. Maybe if the boards didnt require such a large amt of money...
Jay Tomaszewski Jay Tomaszewski Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:07:34 PM I don't think its a union vs volunteer , its a training issue that all fire departments maintain a standard that helps to bring cutting edge practices to the forefront or leaves them with the same training that that worked years ago ,not in today's buildings.
John M. McGillicuddy John M. McGillicuddy Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:16:53 PM After 23 years as Captain, with the Holyoke Mass fire department serving 40, 000 or so residents and businesses...and with a solid training program in place for years....I think recertification could be a waste of money and time. I have been fortunate enough to have fought and survived well over 100 structure fires....and practical knowledge to us in the fire service is irreplaceable and necessary. If your department has no fires ....then it should be considered but if you work for the FDNY...don't even consider it.
David McFeaters David McFeaters Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:45:50 PM I agree that training and recertification is important and should happen about every 5 years. The issue I have is that even with state and local classes its the same stuff every year and sometimes gets dry and boring. What would make it better is if there was actually new stuff more often instead of just repeat repeat repeat.. yes repetitive training is important but sometimes you have to change it up and also make it easier to get and go to and cost effective.
Daryl Flood Daryl Flood Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:55:05 PM Fire Departments are lumped into one catch all title when a guy in Detroit may fight a fire every week, and elsewhere someone may see only a few structure fires in a 20 year career.
Eric Moore Eric Moore Sunday, April 27, 2014 3:06:31 PM There are mandatory annual training hours and refreshers in place for this very reason. The proof of current certification is in the training records.
Derek Jordan Derek Jordan Sunday, April 27, 2014 3:42:00 PM Overall I think it is a good idea. Recertification and its required documentation is an adequate way to track that individuals and departments are doing the training, if you and your department are drilling as often as we all say we it should be no issue to get the hours. The answer maybe isn't an annual or biannual test but certain categories to cover and set number of hours to devote to them.
Patrick McDowell Patrick McDowell Sunday, April 27, 2014 3:59:02 PM Another idea by a bunch of career firefighters that have no idea how hard volunteer companies work to do what they do and can afford.
Will Ellis Will Ellis Sunday, April 27, 2014 4:14:25 PM Yes, every 3 years. 3 yrs would keep firefighters and instructors update on the current tactics. 5 yrs would be way to long of a period.
Robert M. Murphy Robert M. Murphy Sunday, April 27, 2014 4:24:10 PM a captain I know from MA. was telling me about fire dept. b.s. that sounded exactly like education - some off in the ivory tower dweebs with fancy degrees, fancy job titles, fancy paychecks & fancy houses making up crap to keep the underlings busy. maybe I can hire you to tell me how to teach precalc to teenagers who don't like math or school, and you can hire me to tell you how to do your job!
Donald Catenacci Donald Catenacci Sunday, April 27, 2014 6:05:57 PM Seriously this is a ridiculous topic. The fire service is th only professional service, both career and volunteer, I know of that once you get a certification you never have to do a single thing, most places, to prove you have maintained proficiency in the skills you are certified in.
Lu Ann Maki Lu Ann Maki Sunday, April 27, 2014 8:50:15 PM As a volunteer EMT we do monthly training and recertify every two years with class time and practicals. As a volunteer firefighter we do monthly training and do extra training with other departments and our local college when new stuff comes out
Brandon Lipoff Brandon Lipoff Monday, April 28, 2014 1:18:08 AM All a certification is is a piece of paper doesn't mean you can actually do the task in a well safe and aggressive manner. The real knowledge and training comes from wat you do day to day as far as in house training and your experience on the street that is what gives you the real knowledge and ability to do that task in real life.
Wayne E. Hendrix Wayne E. Hendrix Monday, April 28, 2014 5:23:37 AM I totally agree with a yearly recert, I was the training officer for my dept and we trained doing class work every tuesday night and field/live drills every weekend. My troops were also required to take a volunteer refresher course every year and they were not allowed to drive equipment until they were certified. We had our own smoke generator and had smoke drills for rescue purposes as well as fire training. We trained more hours yearly than all of the other departments in the county combined, and it showed on the fire scene. We were the best department in the county and won most of the fire drill competitions in the county. TRAINING SAVES LIVES, DO IT. Another thing is to Video ALL of your scenes and review them for the purpose of getting better and finding ways to do things more efficiently and safely. While doing reviews of the videos DO NOT EVER CRITICIZE members for their activity's only use the video to get better, Believe me once a guy see's the video of himself parking the engine right under the power lines one time HE WON'T DO IT AGAIN. Training works.

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