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Structural Fire Training Program Awarded National Accreditation

On January 20, 2012, the National Park Service’s structural fire suppression training program was formally awarded accreditation through the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications, more commonly known as Pro Board.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the NPS. This award will forever change the way in which our employees are not only certified, but more importantly, recognized by fire departments and emergency service organizations throughout the country and overseas,” said Harold Spencer, chief of the structural fire branch.

For the last two years, the agency’s training program curriculum has undergone a comprehensive overhaul, including testing and skill assessment, in order to ensure full compliance with the standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Mark Gorman and Stephen P. Austin.

Mark Gorman, representing the NPS structural fire program, receives the national award from Stephen P. Austin, ProBoard vice chairman. NPS photo.

In the simplest form, certification means that NPS employees and partners who have successfully completed agency training classes have been found to meet or exceed the standards set forth by the NFPA – standards which have undergone rigorous review by a third party organization.

“Our employees are being given the opportunity to test their skills and knowledge against their peers from all types of fire departments in the United States and around the world,” said Mark Gorman, NPS fire operations program manager.

When students now complete an NPS class, they will receive certifications that contains both the NPS logo and the Pro Board seal, which indicates a quality standard in both training and testing. Professional standards are extremely important in high risk occupations such as structural firefighting, emergency medical services and law enforcement.

Pro Board logo.

Pro Board logo.

“This has created a new baseline for performance not only for the employee, but also for the NPS,” adds Gorman. “Program accreditation will go a long way in ensuring that this trend continues to benefit NPS employees and the agency as a whole.”

Pro Board was established in 1990, but its roots date back to 1972 when an earlier version was established by the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations. Today, it operates under a board of directors which represents the International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of State Fire Marshals, the National Fire Protection Association and the North American Fire Training Directors. There are approximately 69 member agencies, including 32 states, four Canadian provinces, and the United States Department of Defense.

In an agency and profession which is highly decentralized, certification will provide NPS employees with a sense of accomplishment and recognition around the world.

“Reciprocity among certifying entities will be a huge asset for our employees,” said Gorman. “Pro Board certification is recognized by many departments and will support agency efforts for employee development, while ensuring that skills are transferable within the fire service as a whole.”