Fire Service Certification FAQ

Why is there a fire service certification system in Massachusetts?

Fire service certification in Massachusetts is provided to stimulate professional development in the Massachusetts fire service and to allow members a means to demonstrate their ability to meet professional qualification standards through an objective measure of their professional knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Which exams are currently offered?

A listing of the examination schedule and the application dates is posted on this web site.

Who runs the Massachusetts certification process?

The Massachusetts Fire Training Council is a board appointed by the governor. This council is made up of representatives of the major fire service organizations of the state and citizens of the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Fire Training Council has the statutory authority, under Massachusetts General law Chapter 670, Section 165A, to administer the fire service certification process in the Commonwealth.

What role does the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy play in the fire service certification system?

The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy provides staff, equipment, and administrative support to the Fire Training Council for the operation of the fire service certification system.

Who says I have to become certified?

There is no state law or regulation requiring fire service personnel to become certified in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Fire Training Council offers fire service certification on a voluntary basis. Your local fire department regulations may require some level of certification.

What standards are used to certify fire service personnel in this state?

The Massachusetts Fire Training Council bases fire service certification on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards if an appropriate standard exists. The Council may adopt other standards in the absence of an appropriate NFPA standard.

What do I have to study for the examination?

The references for each level of certification are different. You should refer to the most current Certification Examination Schedule for the specific references for the levels of certification in which you have interest.

Are the physical requirements adjusted to recognize limitations that age may place on an individual?

No. The standards are written to minimum performance levels. For certification, all fire service personnel must meet these minimum levels regardless of age or other limiting factors.

I'm a certified firefighter in another state. What do I have to do to get recognized as a certified firefighter in Massachusetts?

To be certified to any level in the Commonwealth an individual must successfully complete the appropriate evaluation process. Fire service personnel certified in other states are not automatically certified in the Commonwealth. In some cases, individuals certified in other states are allowed to use that certification to satisfy a prerequisite in the Commonwealth.

I've been on the job since before the fire service standards were developed. Can I get grandfathered into the certification process?

The Fire Training Council does not offer grandfathering to any level of certification. All persons who wish to become certified must participate in an appropriate evaluation process.

I have a fire science degree. Can I have any portion of the certification examination waived?

The Fire Training Council makes certification independent of training and education. Therefore no portion of the certification process is waived for possession of educational degrees.

I have many certificates for training I have completed. Does this make me certified?

No. The Fire Training Council maintains that there is a distinct difference between training and certification. In earning your certificates you have no doubt learned much that will assist you with the certification process; however, all persons who wish to become certified to a particular level must successfully complete the certification examination process.

I have a Massachusetts State Teaching certification. How does that relate to fire instructor certification?

Teacher certification in the Commonwealth is an entirely different process than fire service certification. Certification in one Massachusetts system has no bearing on certification in another system.

Who is responsible for paying the certification fees?

The individual applying for certification is responsible for arranging payment of the certification fees. Some communities pay the fee while others make the fee the responsibility of the individual. Check your local procedure for this aspect of certification.

Can my community make me get certified?

The extent to which your community can influence your participation in the certification process depends on employment requirements, collective bargaining agreements and local protocols. The Fire Training Council offers fire service certification as a voluntary process. The Council does not become involved in the application of local protocols.

Is there an appeal process?

It shall be the policy and practice of the Massachusetts Fire Training Council to ensure candidates are provided an orderly and systematic means whereby they may present and seek answers to appeals concerning Certification testing and/or Procedures without fear of restraint, coercion, or reprisal. Any person believing they have not received fair treatment within the certification program is entitled to the appeal process. It shall be the sole responsibility of the aggrieved candidate to initiate an appeal. All appeals must be in writing and received within 5 days of the action(s) being appealed.

The first level of appeal is through the Certification Group's Program Coordinator. The second level of appeal must be in writing by the candidate to the Fire Academy Director within 15 days of the Certification Group's Program Coordinator's decision. The third level of appeal must be in writing to the MFTC Certification Subcommittee who will hold a hearing on the appeal. The candidate will be notified of the location, date and time of the hearing and may be present if they so desire. The Subcommittee shall render a ruling relevant to the candidate's appeal. The candidate will be provided with a copy of the Committee's decision. The decision of the Council Certification Subcommittee will be final.

If an unsuccessful candidate fails to appeal within the timeframes established, he/she will have no other recourse other than participate in future scheduled certification examination as retakes are scheduled.

Does the Council have a policy concerning fraud or misrepresentation?

The Massachusetts Fire Training Council, on the recommendation of the Certification Subcommittee, may suspend, revoke or deny certification when deemed appropriate as outlined below. All claims must be made in writing to the subcommittee.

If after evaluation the subcommittee determines that an individual:

  • Has knowingly made a material misrepresentation of any information required for certification, or
  • Has knowingly by any means of false pretense, deception, fraud or cheating obtained documents or certification, or
  • Has knowingly by any means of false pretense, deception, fraud or cheating obtained documents or certification for another individual.

The subcommittee shall suspend, revoke or deny any and all affected certifications.

As part of the review procedure, individuals shall have the opportunity to present information to support or refute all claims.

Other questions?

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact the Certification Group of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy at the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services at

Phone: (978) 567-3223
Certification Coordinator (email): Robert Rand

The address for the Massachusetts Fire Training Council is P.O. Box 1025, Stow, MA 01775.

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