Entire Certification Program Manual (eff. January 2022)
General questions should be directed toward your Certification Board Zone Representative (select "Board" link from Certification drop-down menu). These individuals live within each demarcated geographic portion of the state, and represent the departments located there. They are the best point of contact for local issues and resources, and are the individuals to contact regarding certification policy changes.
If your Zone Representative is not able to adequately answer questions regarding certification policies, procedures, or administration, please contact the chair of the Certification Board, Brian Scheffer.
Kevin Creamer in the Austin Office (email@example.com) is available to answer any questions you may have regarding the processing of applications or the certification module of the website.
- Can I have an outside instructor come to my department and instruct, if he/she is not an Instructor I with SFFMA?
Yes. These individuals would fall under the umbrella of the Certification Coordinator for that department.
- How does the certification coordinator transfer training attained within the department for participating members prior to 2015 and as far back as 1976, to the current program in order to obtain credit for those years of training?
Utilize Certification Program guidelines “Revised January 2015” (or later) in regard to objectives for each subject area. If all objectives have been met, you may give credit for them.
- How do individuals or departments wanting copies of records receive them from the Austin office?
It is the responsibility of the individual departments to maintain and track their own training. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the individual to keep a personal copy of all of his/her certificates—regardless of whether they believe the department or the coordinator are keeping copies on file for them. As much as we would like to help all departments requesting this information, the association office has neither the manpower nor the time to research records which should be on file at the specific departments. The association office should be considered as a “last-ditch effort” in obtaining documentation. This is another prime example of how important and how careful departments must be when selecting their coordinator.All requests MUST be made in writing. Be sure to provide your full legal name, last four digits of SSN, birth date, and all departments that may have submitted records for you with dates (at least years) served. While we will process requests for copies of training, please note that there is no guarantee as to when copies will be forwarded. These are time-consuming requests and as turnaround time for applications is one of our priorities, records requests will be processed as time allows. Research fees are collected to pay for the act of doing the research; therefore, if no information is found, fees will not be refunded.
- If individual dues are not maintained as “current” what, if anything, would happen to the status of certification as it applies to SFFMA?
Nothing. Once an individual has acquired certification through SFFMA, their status as certified is for life.
- My department has elected not to test. Can I test anyway?
As of January 1, 2015 all certifications issued by SFFMA require a comprehensive third-party examination if it was not included as part of the course of study and clearly documented.
- I previously received my certificate and I have verified my eligibility to test. If I take the test and fail, will I be required to start over?
No. If you hold any level of certification or document of training completion issued by SFFMA and take the Firefighter I or II-level tests and fail, you do not lose your training completion validation or have your training negated.
- If I have obtained my Module 1, 2, 3, and 4 certificates, can I test at the Firefighter II level only?
No. You must take and pass the Firefighter I written and skills tests before testing at the Firefighter II level.
- Do I get a “Firefighter II” certificate if I have taken the Commission’s (TCFP) test?
Yes. The certification board will accept anyone who has passed the TCFP exam at the Firefighter II level provided fully completed applications (Live Fire Prerequisite, Firefighter I, and Firefighter II), fees and documentation have been submitted. These individuals are not required to retest with SFFMA.
- If I hold a TCFP Basic Firefighter certification, can I apply for the Firefighter II certification only?
No. You must submit an application through your department for all three levels of certification – Live Fire Prerequisite, Firefighter I and Firefighter II. The TCFP Structural Basic certificate can accompany the application to report training status and document completion of an examination.
- My department is new and just getting started, or has not been training for several years, and we do not have an SFFMA-certified instructor. Can our department still do fire training and get credit for it with SFFMA?
Acceptable training includes any course taught by a local fire department, an accredited college, university, or other agency provided that the certification coordinator and the fire chief attest that the course meets the minimum requirements as set forth by the certification board. IN NO CASE SHALL FIRE SCENE OR RESPONSE TO ACTUAL ALARMS APPLY TOWARD VOLUNTEER CERTIFICATION. All training shall be in a controlled environment.
Participation in the SFFMA Certification Program is not a membership requirement, but is highly recommended. Benefits of participation include, but are not limited to, the following:
- For the department: increased availability of state and federal grant money.
- For the individual: volunteer firefighter license plates, a career track to full-time employment, and waiver of tuition/fees toward a degree in Fire Science.
- For the community: a possible reduction in homeowners’ insurance rates through improved ISO rating.
The State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas (SFFMA) offers your department the opportunity to track and apply your members’ training to a national standard. Our certifications cover NFPA objectives in a format easily managed on a part-time basis by the volunteer fire service.
The Certification Board realizes that your department’s members have other responsibilities and demands on their time. For this reason, the program allows an individual to spread the training over an extended period of time, rather than taking leave to attend full-time training.
The first step toward participation is for the department's fire chief to name a Certification Coordinator. An eligible candidate is at least 18 years of age, maintains active SFFMA individual membership, and trains a minimum of 20 hours per year (including continuing education). To maintain the integrity of the Certification Program and avoid any questions of impropriety, the department’s fire chief cannot also serve in this position. This rule ensures a minimum of two department representatives verify and sign all submitted documentation.
Interested applicants should read over and understand the minimum requirements and duties of the position prior to submitting an application form.
Submit the completed application, signed by the fire chief and applicant, to the Austin office at to firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon receipt of the application, the Austin staff will email the applicant immediate access to the certification website module and an invoice for the processing fee. Once the Austin staff receives the fee, they update the department’s record and issue a coordinator certificate.
A department can reinstate a previously certified coordinator without application or fees as long as he or she was not provisionally certified, and meets the current standard for a full coordinator. The fire chief must submit (email is accepted) a reinstatement request on department letterhead.
- at least SFFMA Firefighter I certification (or Accredited Intermediate Firefighter issued prior to January 1, 2015); AND
- an approved instructional course including but not limited to:
- Methods of Teaching for the Fire Service
- Instructional Techniques for Company Officers
- American Heart Association Core Instructor coursework
- TCFP or NFPA Instructor I or higher
- Bachelor's degree in any field
Although full coordinator certification requires firefighter and instructional coursework, a department just starting in the Certification Program may not have personnel meeting this requirement. In these situations, the department can name a coordinator provisionally. Provisional status grants the applicant five years from the date the application is received in the Austin office to compile and submit the necessary documentation for the full requirements.
When the certification office receives the required documentation, they automatically remove the provisional status and issue full certification. Additional application and fees are not required.
- Serve as an information source within the department
- Serve as a contact point regarding certification for the Austin staff
- Track and report training for the department (includes entry of objectives into online database)
- Maintain workshop attendance on a timely basis
As long as the training covers the objectives of the SFFMA Certification Program, each of the following options credits toward certification.
- Training through a regularly organized fire department
- Training through any state or federal agency (including all branches of the military, as well as through TEEX-ESTI)
- Training through an accredited college or university
- Training from an instructor with SFFMA or TCFP Instructor I (or higher) certification
- Training as documented with an IFSAC or ProBoard seal
- Training from an approved for-profit training provider (see drop-down menu below)
- Training from uniquely qualified individuals
On this last option, a “uniquely qualified individual” must have the approval of the department’s fire chief and certification coordinator. An example would be a manufacturer representative providing vehicle familiarization training.
Commercial (or "For-Profit") companies must meet minimum requirements and receive approval by the Certification Board at one of their regularly scheduled meetings.
- Have and maintain Sustaining Membership in SFFMA
- Classroom instructor(s) and online training program developer(s) must hold an SFFMA Instructor I certificate
- A representative of the company must submit an example course outline to the Board in person to receive approval
- Training program developer(s) must have completed NFPA 1041: Instructor III coursework or equivalent (Texas Teaching Certification)
- The commercial company must ensure all training is conducted according to applicable NFPA guidelines for personnel safety, to include the appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment for any given training activity.
If your company would like to be listed as an approved training provider, contact Kevin Creamer at the Austin Office.
Current Approved Providers
Many departments have individuals under the age of 18 and although these individuals cannot officially participate in the SFFMA Certification Program, the department can still track their training through the certification website module.
By entering a birth date that shows they are under 18 years of age, the system will not charge membership dues as they are ineligible for benefits. Track their training along with everyone else as you normally would, then the day they turn 18, the system will recognized them as eligible for membership. This will allow you to generate their membership dues statement along with checking to verify if they are eligible for certification.
Eligibility for the license plate is based on issuance of a firefighter certification from the SFFMA Certification Program and appears on the front of individual membership cards.
Individuals issued at least a Basic Firefighter or Module 2: Firefighter I (Basic) certificate effective prior to January 1, 2015 are eligible for the license plate, as are individuals issued a full SFFMA Firefighter I certificate after that date.
Certain definitions are used in describing the minimum standards and related requirements as suggested by the Board, including but not limited to:
- Volunteer – a non-career professional
- Board – the Texas Volunteer Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Certification Board
- Chairman – the presiding officer of the Board
- Department – a fire department that utilizes fire suppression and/or prevention personnel and/or search and rescue personnel
- Fire Chief – the head of the fire department
- Certification Coordinator – The official person in charge of setting up, maintaining and validating all of the certification records
- Austin Office – certification department of SFFMA
- Active Firefighter – an individual 18 years of age or older who participates in a minimum of 20 clock hours of training (including continuing education) per year, response participation required by the AHJ
- Trainee – a member of the fire department who has not satisfied the requirements of the certification in question
- School – any school, college, university, academy, or local training program which offers fire service training and includes within its meaning the combination of course curriculum, instructors and facilities
- Requirement – a description of a provision, which relates to suggested minimum standards
- Specification – a description of a requirement supplementing a section of the regulations
- Examination – a Board-approved test administered by the Board and/or a Board-approved examiner, which an individual must pass as one of the requirements for accredited certification
- Curriculum – the objectives established by the Board as a minimum requirement for certification
- Objective – the numbered criteria required for mastery of each numbered statement
- Eligibility – a determination of whether or not an individual has met the requirements set by the Board and would therefore be allowed to take a Board examination(s)
- Eligibility Endorsement – A signed statement testifying to the fact that an individual has met the required training objectives of a Board-approved curriculum and is qualified to take a Board-approved examination of such level
- Examinee – an individual who has met the Board requirements and therefore qualifies to take a Board-approved examination
- Examiner – an individual appointed and/or approved by the Board or Board member to administer a Board-approved examination(s)
- Certificate of Successful Completion – a document supplied by the SFFMA which identifies and shall be used as proof that an individual has completed the required training and has successfully passed the Board-approved examination(s) for certification.
- AHJ – Authority Having Jurisdiction
- FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency
- ICS – Incident Command System
- IFSTA – International Fire Service Training Association
- NFIRS – National Fire Incident Reporting System
- NIMS – National Incident Management System
- NFA – National Fire Academy
- NFPA – National Fire Protection Association
- NWCG – National Wildfire Coordinating Group
- TCFP – Texas Commission on Fire Protection
- IFSAC – International Fire Service Accreditation Congress
- Pro Board – Pro Board Fire Service Professional Qualifications System