Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification FAQ

Why is there a fire investigator certification system in Massachusetts?

Fire investigator certification in Massachusetts is provided to stimulate the professional development of public safety fire investigators in Massachusetts by allowing eligible members a means to demonstrate their ability to meet professional qualification standards through an objective measure of their professional knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Who runs the Massachusetts certification process?

The Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition is authorized by the Secretary of Public Safety to provide public safety fire investigator certification for the Commonwealth. The Coalition is made from representatives of the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, The Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council and the Massachusetts State Police.

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

The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy provides staff, equipment, and administrative support to the Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition for the operation of the system.

Who says I have to become certified?

There is no state law or regulation requiring public safety fire investigators to become certified in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition offers certification on a voluntary basis. Your department regulations may require some level of certification.

What standards are used to certify personnel in this state?

The Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition bases certification on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards if an appropriate standard exists. The Coalition may adopt other standards in the absence of an appropriate NFPA standard.

What types of certification are offered?

At the present time only certification to the level of Fire Investigator is offered. Certification Examination Schedules are published and mailed to all chiefs of fire departments, police departments, and state police units involved in fire investigation.

How much training must I have before I can take the certification examination?

There are specific training and experience prerequisites for eligibility to participate in the certification process. You may contact the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy certification group for a copy of the specifics.

What do I have to study for the examination?

The references for fire investigator are contained in the Certification Examination Schedule. You may contact the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy certification group for a copy of the reference list.

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

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

I'm a certified fire investigator in another system. What do I have to do to get recognized as a certified fire investigator in Massachusetts?

To be certified as a public safety fire investigator in the Commonwealth an individual must successfully complete the appropriate evaluation process. Fire investigators in other systems are not automatically certified in the Commonwealth.

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

The Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition does not offer grandfathering for certification. All persons who wish to become certified must participate in an appropriate evaluation process.

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

No. The Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition allows you to apply certain documented training to satisfy the prerequisites but training certificates do not result directly in certification. All persons who wish to become certified to the level of public safety fire investigator must successfully complete the certification examination process.

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.

If I become certified to a specific level this year, when will I have to recertify?

Public safety fire investigator certification expires 5 years from the date of certification. You would have to successfully complete the requirements for re-certification before your current certification expires.

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 Massachusetts Public Safety Fire Investigator Certification Coalition offers certification as a voluntary process. The Coalition does not become involved in the application of local protocols.

Other questions?

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call 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.