The York County Fire Police Certification Program

This is an excerpt from the York County Fire Police Association on their Certification program:

In the fall of 2003 after a crash on I-83 blocked traffic for 7 hours during the evening rush hour, two separate after-action review sessions were done.

One of the results of the sessions was the development of a program to certify York County Fire Police Officers.

With the reduction of volunteer ranks, increased traffic, and the threat of terror attacks, we looked for a system that would not only improve safety but would allow for enhanced interaction and interoperability during incidents & events.

Upon development of the program, we discovered other counties across Pennsylvania were exploring similar options. We worked with the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress to develop an international certification.  Once developed, the international certification is now available, but does not have the flexibility of our local program.  Also, IFSAC is using our program as an alternate prerequisite for their testing.

We continue to work with IFSAC, and other counties in the region to aid in the professionalism of Fire Police.

Questions concerning the program are answered in this brochure or can be directed to or by asking any Association member.

What is it? The York County Fire Police Certification program is a voluntary program designed to help individuals, municipalities, Fire Departments and Police gauge the competence of Fire Police Officers.

Why was it created? When an incident strips the availability of local Fire Police resources, outside departments are summoned. The program provides instant knowledge as to the abilities of the incoming Fire Police Officers, abilities that have been verified through a multi-leveled testing system.

What are the levels? There are three levels for the program, Responder, Operations and Supervisor. There is also a Driver designation available.

The most basic level is Responder. The Responder Level is the Officer who has a basic grasp of laws and an understanding of traffic. Every candidate is first tested at the Responder Level before they can move to other levels. The Responder is NOT authorized to physically direct traffic; however, they may post advance warning, detours, and provide support for the incident.

Operations Level personnel are the Officers authorized to physically interact with live traffic, through point-shoulder traffic control, or setting up traffic-control devices directly in traffic.

The Supervisor Level is the person with a full grasp of the needs of operations who also has received management training. Their job will be to coordinate the traffic-control task.

What kind of testing is given? For all levels, the candidate must complete a written and oral test. The Operations Level candidate is also tested physically, to ensure they can meet the rigors of traffic control.

What physical testing is given for Operations and how was it developed? The federal traffic control guideline, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires flaggers to be able to perform certain tasks. The candidate must demonstrate the motions of point-shoulder traffic control, must climb a 32" obstacle, must move 30 feet in 3.3 seconds, and must pick up 50 lbs of traffic cones and place them in a straight line over a 180 foot course in 75 seconds or less. These tests were developed upon determining the essential job functions under the Americans With Disabilities Act using real Fire Police Officers and consulting with Penn State University Medical.

Are there any other qualifications? A candidate must first be a Fire Police Officer of at least 18 years of age, must have attended certain training for each level desired, and will be subjected to a Pennsylvania Criminal History background check.

How are the levels displayed? A badge holder is used, with the authorized levels attached. Thus, upon arrival, as the Officer reports to the Traffic-Control supervisor, the supervisor needs only a glance to determine what the incoming Officer’s level(s) are.

What happens when a person is certified? Upon successful completion of the testing and the background check, the candidate is provided with the badge holder, a name plate, level designation plate(s), a cloth patch, and certificate.

Also, the Fire Department and Municipality are each sent a copy of the certificate for their records.

Can a person be certified in more than one Fire Company? Yes. The certification is not dependent on municipal borders.

Why take the York County tests when the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress offers the same thing? The IFSAC program was developed from the York County program through Bucks County Community College. The IFSAC program uses the York County Operations Level as a prerequisite to their testing, and is equal to our Operations Level. They do not offer the Responder or Supervisory Levels nor do they offer the badge holder with plates advertising for quick recognition at incidents. We work together, not separately, on this program.

In 2010, due to the upcoming NFPA regulations governing Traffic Control, the York County Association put this program on hold.  IFSAC is also on hold until NFPA is done.  Now that NFPA is in effect, it will have to be determined whether IFSAC or Pro-Board will conduct certification exams.  When we know, we'll pass it on!  

In the meantime, any County who wishes to be tested can, through RSC, run a program.

 

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