New Certification and Training Structure

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1 New Certification and Training Structure For Fire Safety Codes Officers Summer 2017

2 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers As you may have heard, the requirements to become certified as a Fire safety codes officer (SCO) are changing. The Safety Codes Council (Council) has been working with a group of stakeholders including SCOs, industry, labour and government to develop changes to Fire SCO certification based on feedback from the Alberta fire services community. We have been in conversation with SCOs and employers about these proposed changes including a widespread consultation in SCOs from all over Alberta spoke passionately about their profession and the needs of their communities, and the Council thanks you for your feedback. The purpose of this booklet is to provide you with detailed information about the new scopes of practice, new training courses, and to answer some frequently asked questions. Summary of Changes Specific scopes of practice have been developed for each Group and Level. For new SCOs, Group A is a prerequisite for Group B and Group C. A new stand-alone certification level has been established called Group E Petroleum Storage Tanks. Group D will be phased out. Those currently working as Group D SCOs may continue to work as Group D SCOs provided that they continue to meet the requirements for renewal; however, no new applications for this group will be accepted. Firefighting experience is no longer a prerequisite for any Fire certification. Existing Fire SCOs will retain their current certification. No additional training will be required, provided that the SCO s scope of practice continues to meet the needs of the accredited organization. With the new clarified scopes of practice, some SCOs will decide to gain another certification to meet the needs of their communities. For example, an existing Group A SCO might want to become a Group B Level 1 SCO so that they can work under the new Group B Level 1 scope of practice. Transition to the New Structure The Council understands the need to provide as much time as possible for SCOs to get any additional training they need to meet the requirements of their accredited organization s Quality Management Plan (QMP), so there will be a two year transition period before the new certification scopes are in effect. The new scopes of practice will be in effect May 1, New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers Page 1

3 Scopes of Practice Certification Level Group A Entry Qualification: High School Diploma or General Education Development (GED) Diploma Scope of Practice a. Inspect major occupancy buildings identified as small assembly, residential, business and personal services, mercantile, and low hazard industrial buildings (less than 600 m2). These buildings: i. May not have fire alarm systems, standpipe systems, sprinkler systems or other automatic fire suppression systems, with the exception that they may have a commercial wet chemical kitchen fire suppression system; ii. Cannot be an assembly occupancy with an occupant load greater than 150 people; iii. Cannot be a group B1, B2, or B3 occupancy (detention, treatment, or care facility), such as a penitentiary or hospital; and iv. Cannot be a group F1 or F2 occupancy (high and medium hazard industrial) chemical warehouse or spray-paint operations. b. Establish occupant loads for any building identified as the scope of practice of Group A and where the occupant load is less than 150 people. c. Conduct investigations where: i. Fire loss is estimated to be less than $1 million; ii. There is no death or injury requiring medical attention; iii. The fire is not suspected to be arson. d. If, during the investigation, arson becomes a reasonable suspicion, or a fire death is discovered, the investigation must be handed to a Group C (Investigator) Level 2. The SCO who began the investigation may assist. e. Investigate unsafe conditions in all classifications of buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. f. Cannot issue orders, variances or permits, or enforce an order. g. Cannot issue permits for petroleum storage tanks or inspect petroleum storage tanks. Page 2 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers

4 Certification Level Group B (Inspector) Level 1 Entry Qualification: Fire Group A Certification Group B (Inspector) Level 2 Entry Qualification: Fire Group B Level 1 Certification Scope of Practice a. Inspect any building classified in the Alberta Building Code, other than those: i. identified as group F1, high hazard industrial buildings; and ii. high buildings as referenced in (1). b. Conduct investigations according to the scope of Group A Fire SCOs. Establish occupant loads for any building with an occupant load of less than 300 people. c. Investigate unsafe conditions in all classifications of buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. d. Issue and enforce orders for any building identified in a. above. e. Cannot issue permits for petroleum storage tanks. f. Cannot issue variances. a. Inspect all classifications of buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. b. Conduct investigations according to the scope of practice of Group A Fire SCOs. c. Establish occupant loads for any classification of building identified in the Alberta Building Code. d. Issue orders and variances, enforce orders, and investigate unsafe conditions. e. Investigate unsafe conditions in all classifications of buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. Scopes of Practice Page 3

5 Certification Level Group C (Investigator) Level 1 Entry Qualification: Fire Group A Certification Scope of Practice a. Investigate the origin and cause of fires where: i. Fire loss is estimated to be less than $2 million; ii. No death has occurred; iii. The fire is not suspected to be arson. b. If, during the investigation, arson becomes a reasonable suspicion, or a fire death is discovered, the investigation will be handed to a Group C (Investigator) Level 2 SCO. The SCO who began the investigation may assist. c. Investigate unsafe conditions in all classifications of buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. d. Establish occupant loads according to the scope of Group A Fire SCOs. e. Cannot issue orders or variances, enforce orders, or issue permits for petroleum storage tanks. f. Inspect small assembly, residential, business and personal services, mercantile and low hazard industrial buildings (less than 600 m2). These buildings: i. May not have fire alarm systems, standpipe systems, sprinkler systems or other automatic fire suppression systems, with the exception that they may have a commercial wet chemical kitchen fire suppression system; ii. Cannot be an assembly occupancy with an occupational load greater than 150; iii. Cannot be a group B1, B2, or B3 occupancy (detention, treatment, or care facility) such as a penitentiary, or hospital; and iv. Cannot be a group F1 or F2 occupancy (high and medium hazard industrial), such as chemical warehouse or spray-paint operations. Page 4 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers

6 Certification Level Group C (Investigator) Level 2 Entry Qualification: Fire Group C Level 1 Certification Group D (Restricted) Levels 1 and 2 Scope of Practice a. Investigate the origin and cause of fires in all classifications of buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. b. Investigate unsafe conditions in all buildings identified in the Alberta Building Code. c. Establish occupant loads according to the scope of Group A Fire SCOs. d. Inspect small assembly, residential, business and personal services, mercantile, and low hazard industrial buildings (less than 600 m2). These buildings: i. May not have fire alarm systems, standpipe systems, sprinkler systems or other automatic fire suppression systems, with the exception that they may have a commercial wet chemical kitchen fire suppression system; ii. Cannot be an assembly occupancy with an occupational load greater than 150; iii. Cannot be a group B1, B2, or B3 occupancy (detention, treatment, or care facility) such as a penitentiary or hospital; iv. Cannot be a group F1 or F2 occupancy (high and medium hazard industrial), such as chemical warehouse or spray-paint operations. e. Cannot issue orders or variances, enforce orders, or issue permits for petroleum storage tanks. New Group D certifications will not be issued. Existing Group D SCOs may retain their certification. The Administrator may renew existing Group D certifications that meet requirements for renewal. Scopes of Practice Page 5

7 Certification Level Group E Petroleum Storage Tanks Entry Qualification: Fire Group B Level 2 Certification OR PM 1 or PM 2 Certification from the Canadian Petroleum Construction Association (CPCA) Scope of Practice a. The scope of practice is limited to petroleum storage tanks and petroleum storage tank systems within Part 4 of the Alberta Fire Code. b. Inspection of new and existing above ground tanks, piping and dispensing installations and removals. c. Inspection of new and existing underground storage tanks, piping and dispensing installations and removals. d. Investigate unsafe conditions related only to petroleum storage tanks. e. Issue permits and variances for petroleum storage tanks. f. Cannot investigate the origin and cause of fires. Here s what you need to know As an SCO We encourage all SCOs to review the new scopes of practice for their current Group and Level. Talk to your QMP manager and employer to ensure that the new scope will cover your existing and anticipated duties. If not, the Council can help you determine what group or level you need to move to, and what training may be needed to accommodate the new scope of practice. For many SCOs, nothing additional will be required. As a Current Student If you are part way through your SCO training as a Group A, Group B, or Group C SCO, we recommend that you begin taking the new courses now available. See a complete list of courses starting on page 11. As a Prospective Student Group A is now a prerequisite for Group B and Group C. Should you meet the entry requirements for Group A, register for courses through the Council by calling , or by sending an to As an Employer Scopes of practice come into full effect in May Employers should review the new scopes of practice (outlined beginning on page 2) to make sure they have appropriately certified SCOs. Page 6 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers

8 Certification and Training Structure Diagram Group A Group B Level 1 Inspector Group C Level 1 Investigator Group B Level 2 Inspector Group C Level 2 Investigator Group E Petroleum Tank Inspector *Entry Qualification: Fire Group B Level 2 Certification OR CPCA PM 1 or PM 2 Certification Frequently Asked Questions 1. Why has fire experience been removed from the requirements? Fire experience was removed based on the recommendation of the Fire Certification and Training Working Group. The decision was based on the following factors: The Council s mandate to align Alberta certification requirements with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which does not have firefighting experience as a requirement. In addition, there are no objective measurements for assessing the quality of fire experience. It is difficult for otherwise qualified applicants to obtain firefighting experience, as employers are reluctant to allow potential Fire SCO applicants to expose themselves to fire experience training due to the possibility of injury and resulting insurance issues. The Working Group assessed the scope of work for a Fire SCO and determined that inspections can be completed by an SCO using code knowledge and NFPA job performance requirements. 2. How did the process for making changes to the certification requirements for Fire SCOs unfold? The Fire Certification structure was last examined in A review was needed to examine gaps and ensure that SCOs have clarity on what they can or cannot do within the scope of their Group and/or Level. The Council also heard concerns from Fire SCOs regarding a lack of training for petroleum tank inspections. Certification and Training Structure Diagram Page 7

9 1 If you are already certified You will be able to continue to work with your current certification without needing any additional training, provided that the new scope of work covers the requirement of your organization s QMP. For many SCOs, no additional training will be required. 2 To become certified, or to gain another level of certification (Under the current structure) (Under the new structure) With the new scopes of practice, some SCOs will decide to gain another certification to meet the needs of their communities. If you are part way through your SCO training as a Group A, Group B, or Group C SCO, we recommend that you begin taking the new courses now available. The new courses, delivered through the Council, are now available as of May Training for the theory components of Fire SCO training can be started at any time, as the Council is now offering this training online. The theory courses, delivered through Lakeland College, will not be offered after December 31, The practical courses will continue to be offered by Lakeland after this time. Firefighting experience is no longer an entry requirement. Group A is a prerequisite for Groups B and C. Group E is a new stand-alone certification for inspection of petroleum tanks. After May 2019, petroleum tank inspections will no longer be a part of the Group B Level 2 scope of practice. No new certifications will be issued in Group D. There will be a two year transition period before the new structure takes effect. The new scopes of practice will be in effect May 1, Page 8 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers Certification and Training Decision Tree Page 9

10 3. What changes have been made to the Fire certification structure? The new training courses align closely with NFPA 1031 (Inspector) and NFPA 1033 (Investigator) job requirements. This makes it easier for someone with NFPA certification to become an SCO, or for an SCO to take the NFPA exam and add NFPA certification to their credentials. Scopes of practice for each Group and Level are now clearly defined. The scopes are in line with the structure and requirements of the Alberta Fire and Building Codes. Group A will be a prerequisite for Groups B and C. Fire experience will not be an entry requirement. Group D will be phased out. Those currently working as Group D SCOs may continue to work as Group D SCOs; however, no new applications for this group will be accepted. Group E will be a new certification group that focuses on the inspection of petroleum storage tanks. This group will work closely with Petroleum Tanks Management Association of Alberta (PTMAA). 4. How has the Fire SCO training program been streamlined? Training builds on prior learning as SCOs acquire certification at different Groups and Levels. In the previous structure, courses taken for Group A did not count towards requirements for other certifications. Group A now has a requirement for written and verbal communication training and the Fire Prevention course has been replaced by Introduction to Inspections, which includes training on fire prevention as well as inspections. The Practicum for Investigations is now only a Group C Level 2 requirement. This change was made to better align with NFPA requirements. 5. Will Fire SCO training delivery be easier to access? The theory components of the Fire SCO training will now be delivered online directly through the Council, rather than by classroom delivery through the Emergency Training Centre at Lakeland College. Lakeland College will still offer the practical components of the training that involve conducting inspections and investigations at their campus in Vermillion. Fire departments will also be able to provide the practicum components of the training if they can provide suitable supervisors and evaluators. More information can be requested either through the Council or the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC). Page 10 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers

11 Benefits to taking training through the Council s elearning include: No need to travel Self-paced learning Access to mobile learning Additional educational resources Each student will be assigned a course advisor 6. How do NFPA 1031 and 1033 correspond to Fire SCO certification? Individuals can obtain both National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (Pro Board) and International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) certification and Council certification for Fire SCOs with a minimum duplication of effort. Some equivalencies will be granted to holders of Pro Board and IFSAC certifications (NFPA 1031 and NFPA 1033) towards Fire SCO certification. Council certified Fire SCOs who want to gain Pro Board and IFSAC certifications can take qualifying exams through the OFC. The Council and the OFC have worked together to ensure that the practical requirements for Fire SCO certification and certification relating to the NFPA 1031 and NFPA 1033 standards will be identical, so that one set of practicum requirements will meet both certifying bodies requirements. 7. What courses will I need to take for a new Group or Level? Below is a full list of courses for each level. Fire Group A Entry: Grade 12 or GED Introduction to Written Communications for Fire SCOs Professional Communication Skills for SCOs Fire, Basics of the Safety Codes Act in Alberta, AFC Fire, Introduction to the Alberta Fire and Building Codes, AFC Fire, Introduction to Fire Inspection, AFC Fire, Introduction to Fire Investigation, AFC 2014 Frequently Asked Questions Page 11

12 Fire Group B (Inspector) Level 1 Entry: Group A Certification Effective Writing Techniques for Fire SCOs M - Introduction to the Safety Codes System in Alberta Fire, Properties of Materials, AFC Fire, Building Construction and Protection Systems, AFC Fire, Inspection Procedures, AFC 2014 Practical Evaluation for Inspector (Practicum) Entry: NFPA 1031 Level M - Introduction to the Safety Codes System in Alberta Fire, Introduction to the Alberta Fire and Building Codes, AFC 2014 Fire Group B (Inspector) Level 2 Entry: Group B Level 1 Certification Fire, Courtroom and Legal Procedures, AFC Fire, Building Evaluation and Plan Reviews, AFC Fire, Evaluating Alternative Solutions, AFC 2014 Applied Inspection (Practicum) Entry: NFPA 1031 Level M - Introduction to the Safety Codes System in Alberta Fire, Introduction to the Alberta Fire and Building Codes, AFC Fire, Evaluating Alternative Solutions, AFC 2014 Fire Group C (Investigator) Level 1 Entry: Group A Certification Effective Writing Techniques for Fire SCOs M - Introduction to the Safety Codes System in Alberta Fire, Building Construction and Protection Systems, AFC Fire, Properties of Materials, AFC Fire, Cause Determination, AFC Fire, Investigation Procedures, AFC 2014 Fire Group C (Investigator) Level 2 Entry: Group C Level 1 Certification Fire, Courtroom and Legal Procedures, AFC Fire, Building Evaluation and Plan Reviews, AFC Fire, Advanced Investigation Procedures, AFC 2014 Applied Investigation (Practicum) Entry: NFPA 1033 Level Introduction to the Safety Codes System in Alberta Page 12 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers

13 Fire Group E (Petroleum Tanks) Entry: Group B Level 2 Certification Fire, Petroleum Tanks, AFC 2014 Entry: PM 1 or PM 2 Certification from CPCA M - Written Communications for Fire SCOs Professional Communication Skills for SCOs M - Introduction to the Safety Codes System in Alberta Fire, Petroleum Tanks, AFC Fire, Inspection Procedures, AFC Fire, Evaluating Alternative Solutions, AFC If I am currently a Group A SCO, or have almost completed my Group A training, how does this affect me? If you are part way through your SCO training, we recommend that you begin taking the new courses now available. The Council s previous courses, which have been delivered by Lakeland College, will not be offered after December 31, If there is not sufficient enrollment for the remainder of 2017, courses are not guaranteed to run. If you are an existing Group A SCO, you will be able to continue to work in that Group without any additional training, provided that the new scope of practice covers the requirements of your employer s QMP. If an accredited organization s QMP requires inspection of buildings that exceed the scope of practice for the certification you now hold, you may have to obtain a new level of certification to provide those inspections. If you currently perform fire investigations on a regular basis, you may need to be certified as a Group C Investigator. 9. If I am currently a Group B SCO, or have almost completed my Group B training, how does this affect me? If you are an existing Group B SCO, you will be able to continue to work with your current certification without needing any additional training, provided that the new scope of practice covers the requirements of your organization s QMP. The focus of Group B training is on inspections. Group B SCOs will have limited authority to conduct investigations. Frequently Asked Questions Page 13

14 If you are a Group B Level 1 SCO and your accredited organization s QMP requires inspection of buildings that exceed the scope of practice for Level 1, you will have to move to Level 2 to provide those inspections. If you currently perform fire investigations on a regular basis, you may need to be certified as a Group C Investigator. If you are part way through your training for certification in Group B, we recommend that you begin taking the new courses for Group B Level 1 or Group B Level 2 which are listed on page 12. The Council s previous courses, which have been delivered by Lakeland College, will not be offered after December 31, If there is not sufficient enrollment for the remainder of 2017, courses are not guaranteed to run. 10. If I am currently a Group C SCO, or have almost completed my Group C training, how does this affect me? If you are an existing Group C SCO, you will be able to continue to work with your current certification without needing any additional training, provided that the new scope of practice covers the requirements of your organization s QMP. The focus of Group C is on investigation. Group C SCOs will have limited authority to conduct building inspections. If your accredited organization s QMP requires inspection of buildings that exceed the scope of practice for the certification you now hold, you may need to add Group B certification. If you are part way through your SCO training, we recommend that you begin taking the new courses for Group C Level 1 or Group C Level 2 which are listed on page 12. The Council s previous courses, which have been delivered by Lakeland College, will not be offered after December 31, If there is not sufficient enrollment for the remainder of 2017, courses are not guaranteed to run. 11. I am currently a Group D SCO. How does this affect me? There will be no effect on existing Group D SCOs, however, no new certifications in Group D will be issued. If you are currently certified as a Group D SCO, you may continue to work in that Group provided you continue to meet the requirements for renewal. You can continue to work under your existing Designation of Powers (DOP), or you can work for another employer under a new DOP. The scope of practice that you were originally certified to inspect remains the same. Page 14 New Certification and Training Structure for Fire Safety Codes Officers

15 12. What is the new Group E Petroleum Tanks certification level? Group E will focus exclusively on inspection of above ground and underground petroleum storage tanks. Entry qualifications for Group E are certification as a Group B Level 2 SCO or PM1 or PM2 certification from the Canadian Petroleum Construction Association (CPCA). Group E will have its own specialized training, including a practicum component. The ability to inspect petroleum tanks will only be held by Group E SCOs. It has been removed from Group B Level 2, therefore any Group B Level 2 SCO will need to complete course Fire, Petroleum Tanks, AFC 2014, to inspect petroleum tanks. 13. How can an SCO find out more information or ask questions about the new certification and training structure? Contact the Council at or , or by at or Frequently Asked Questions Page 15

16 #1000, Jasper Avenue N.W. Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3S9 Phone / Fax / safetycodes.ab.ca

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