Please see the new PSE Certification Questions and Answers FAQ Sheet
Posted: May 20, 2014

Certification_questions_and_answers_FAQ_sheet [PDF, 142Kb]

Certification | Claims | Course Completion Rosters | Course Development
Fire Department Rosters | Testing | Training


Question: How do I transfer my certification from other states to Illinois?

Answer: The State of Illinois does not grant automatic certificate reciprocity. All courses must be reviewed to establish if the course(s) satisfy a minimum of 80% of the required Illinois objectives for a level of certification once an individual is employed by an Illinois fire department. The review is based on submission of the course documentation, i.e. course syllabi, training documentation, proof of course completion and a completed equivalency checklist with a money order or certified check for $100.00. The Authority having Jurisdiction is allowed to review and accept legal responsibility for the training for Firefighter II and III, but all other courses must be reviewed by Office staff. If a course is granted equivalency, the individual is allowed one attempt of the State Written and Practical examinations. If passed, certification will be awarded. If unsuccessful, the individual must pass an approved Illinois course prior to re-testing.

Question: I am interested in moving to another state, are my certifications transferable?

Answer: You will need to check with the other entity to check their requirements. We do suggest that you obtain and keep copies of your own training records indicating the number of hours you have trained for the various levels and copies of completion certificates or transcripts for schools you have attended.

Question: When should the Application for Certification/Validation/Attestation be mailed?

Answer: Please do not send the application until after you have received your exam results.

Question: What other paperwork must I mail with the Application for Certification/Validation/Attestation?

Answer: Please mail copies of any transcripts, course completion certificates, or official paperwork showing where and when you attended the class. If submitted with the application, your certification will not be held or returned requesting the course completion until the official roster from the department/school has been received and processed.

Question: What paperwork is needed to apply for Fire Apparatus Engineer certification?

Answer: In addition to the Application for Certification/Validation/Attestation form, the Driving Validation form must be submitted.

Question: My original certificate has been lost or destroyed. How do I request a replacement certificate?

Answer: The employing fire department may request a duplicate certificate by writing, faxing or emailing a request to the division with the individual's name, social security number and level(s) of certification that the duplicate certificate is require for. The duplicate will be forwarded to the employing department.

Question: I cannot be certified as a Firefighter III until I have 3 years in the fire service. Will my Certificate automatically be sent out to my Chief?

Answer: Due to the volume of fire departments and individuals that our office serves it would be best to have your Chief or Training Officer notify us in writing when you have attained your three years.

Question: Does OSFM handle EMT certification?

Answer: No, EMT certification is handled by the Illinois Department of Public Health. They may be contacted at 217/785-2080.

Question: How long is my practical exam valid?

Answer: All practical exams are valid for one year, with the exception of Firefighter II & III. Firefighter II & III are valid up to five years.


Question: How does my department participate in the reimbursement program?

Answer: An ordinance to participate must be passed by the governing board of the Authority having Jurisdiction agreeing to train according to our Illinois Administrative Code. The ordinance must establish a probation period for probationary firefighters. The passed ordinance must be submitted to this office for approval. Once approved, training may be reimbursed that takes place after the ordinance approval letter is sent.

Question: How often is the claim document generated?

Answer: The claim document is generated every year and forwarded to the Fire Chief's of those departments with approved ordinances.

Question: How is the percentage for reimbursement determined?

Answer: The percentage is determined by computing the total dollars of claims submitted divided into the amount of the grant. The amount of grant is determined by legislature every year during the budgeting process.

Question: When should my claim paperwork be submitted to OSFM?

Answer: All paperwork must be submitted to this office by the date listed in the funding document.

Question: My claims for last year indicated that several claims for Fire Officer I courses were disallowed. Why?

Answer: The claiming process follows the same criteria as certification. An individual who is not certified as Firefighter III prior to taking the Fire Officer I course is not eligible for reimbursement for the Fire Officer I course. This applies to all levels of training. In addition if we do not have record of course completion, the claim is denied. We strongly suggest that fire departments verify with us that the information is being forwarded to us.

Question: What can I claim for training?

Answer: Claims are submitted yearly based on training taken during the calendar year (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31). The Funding Document lists the training that is allowable for that year and the deadline date that the claim form must be received. The division does not reimburse for a certification level received, but for the actual training hours and costs association for the level. In other words, if an individual receives training for a level over a 2 year period, the training hours are submitted on 2 years of claim forms showing the hours for each year. Example: Firefighter A received 80 hours of training for Firefighter III in calendar year 2005 and 60 hours in calendar year 2006. The Fire Department would submit a claim form for 80 hours in calendar year 2005 and another claim form for 60 hours in calendar year 2006. It would not submit a claim form for 140 hours for 2006 to cover the training hours in both years. Nor would the Fire Department submit a claim form for a certification once the certificate is received in the department. Example: Firefighter B received a certificate for Firefighter III in 2006, but the actually training hours are for 160 hours from 2001 to 2006. The Fire Department lists Firefighter B on the claim form for 160 hours of Firefighter III training on the 2006 claim form. This claim would be denied because not all hours were trained in 2006; the certificate was issued in 2006. in the office. It is also forwarded each year during October, either in written form or electronically, to the departments which have ordinances to participate in the reimbursement program on file with the office. Funding is available for training after the date the ordinance is approved by the division.

Course Completion Rosters

Question: What are course completion rosters?

Answer: Course completion rosters are submitted to the office by an approved school (fire department, Fire Service Institute, fire academy, college) showing the type of class, beginning and ending dates of the class, who completed the course and how many hours were attended. This information is required for certification at all levels before a certification may be processed.

Question: The Division returned my application for certification requesting proof of course completion. I thought the academy had submitted all the information. What do I need to do?

Answer: If you have a copy of your completion certificate, official grade slip or transcript, or documentation that you have completed the course, you may make a copy and attach it to the application for re-submission.

Course Development

Question: How are programs and objectives established?

Answer: The Division has numerous ad hoc committees composed of members of the major fire service organizations in Illinois, Illinois Fire Service Institute, and experts at the different levels. When a NFPA Standard is established or amended, the Division has three years by statute to develop and establish/update the objectives for the Certification level. The ad hoc committee for the Certification to be updated or established is called upon to create a consensus of opinions and recommendations.

Question: How do I become a member of an ad hoc committee?

Answer: Members are selected based on their expertise in the area being developed and are normally appointed through one of the State associations. Ad Hoc membership applications are available through the Division and may be requested in writing.

Fire Department Rosters

Question: How often should I send a fire department roster?

Answer: Fire department rosters should be sent to this office anytime your fire department has a personnel change.

Question: What should my fire department roster include?

Answer: It should include members' first and last name, social security number, home address, hire date, and indicate whether the member is paid, paid on call, or volunteer. The office would prefer to see the roster in alpha order by last name.


Question: I am not a firefighter on an Illinois Fire Department but would like to be. How can I take the State certification exam?

Answer: An individual must be employed by an Illinois fire department before this office may examine or certified. Definition of employed is notated on the departmental personnel roster as a fire suppression employee who is covered by the departmental insurance and benefits.

Question: Can an instructor from my department sign the request for examination form if the course was taken elsewhere?

Answer: An instructor may sign as long as he/she is certified as the appropriate level of instructor according to the requirements established in the Illinois Administrative Code and is willing to take legal responsibility for the approved training that was completed and the employing department has training records of the completed course.

Question: Where is my confirmation for a scheduled exam?

Answer: The confirmation is mailed back to the address on the request; i.e. the college/academy/ fire department that submitted the request. The confirmation is not mailed to the individual.

Question: Can more than one exam be challenged at one test site?

Answer: The following exams may be challenged at one test site: two modules of Firefighter II or III, Hazardous Materials Awareness with one module of Firefighter II OR the complete Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Operations with one module of Firefighter III OR the complete Firefighter II, or two modules of Fire Officer I or II. No other exams may be challenged together at one test site.

Question: When does the request for exam have to be received by OSFM?

Answer: The request for exam must be received in the office no later than 30 days prior to the first choice exam date.

Question: Why did I not receive my first choice of exam dates?

Answer: The first choice of exam date was not chosen because the location was full, cancelled, or did not meet the 30 day limit.

Question: Why was my request for exam denied because of original signature of Fire Chief or School Director (where applicable) or Instructor?

Answer: This form is a LEGAL document which attests to the completion of the required training and employment as specified in the IL Administrative Code and must have the original signature of the employing Fire Chief or School Director and the qualified Instructor. The request was denied for lack of one of the signatures or the Fire Chief's name was not recognized as the Chief of the department. If the department has a change in Fire Chief, the department must notify this office in writing of the Chief change.

Question: How does a firefighter apply for ADA/ADD testing?

Answer: Please contact the OSFM General Counsel at 217/785-4144 for information.

Question: I have not received my results from a recent exam, what has happened to my grades?

Answer: Please check with your Chief or Training Officer. All grades are forwarded to the Chief.


Question: What levels does Illinois utilize for NFPA 1001 Firefighter I and II?

Answer: : Illinois has developed their programs as follows: Basic firefighter or Firefighter I is indicated as Firefighter II; Advanced firefighter or Firefighter II is indicated as Firefighter III.

Question: Does a fire department have to train for certification through OSFM?

Answer: The certification program in Illinois is not mandatory, but a department may utilize the programs for training even though certification is not pursued. The training programs developed by this division meet or exceed the requirements of NFPA and when utilized, will meet the requirements mandated by the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL). For requirements mandated by IDOL please call 217/785-7056.

Question: My department does not train for certification, but I would like to. How do I obtain the approved certification training?

Answer: You can get your training by doing one of the following:

  • Checking with neighboring departments for permission to participate in its approved training;
  • Contact the Illinois Fire Service Institute at 217/333-3800 or website http://www.fsi.uiuc.edu for course information; or
  • Contact your local college for an approved fire science program.

Note that an individual's final certification is based on several criteria including fire service employment, years of fire suppression experience, and application sign off by the employing department. Even though your department does not participate in this program, most Fire Chief's will not have a problem with one of his/her employees trying to better him/her. Check with your training officer or Chief prior to taking the courses.

Question: My Fire Department would like to train for certification. What paperwork must your Office have?

Answer: The Fire Department must submit a facility approval and course approval for the level(s) of training they wish to conduct. There are two kinds of facility approvals - Provisional and Unlimited - depending on the level(s) of training to be conducted at the department. In order to receive a course approval for training, the Fire Department must have at least one certified instructor for the level(s) of training to be conducted. The certified instructor does not have to be employed by the Fire Department. He/she can be from another department, but will need to agree to be legally responsible for the training he/she is providing.

Question: What is the difference between provisional and unlimited facility approval?

Answer: A Provisional Facility Approval is granted to teach the lower level, introductory courses. The Provisional Facility Approval form requires the name of the Fire Department and signature of the Fire Chief and Training Officer. The Form directly states what a facility must have to receive this approval. Upon signing, the Fire Chief and Training Officer are attesting to this fact.

Question: What is the difference between provisional and unlimited facility approval?

Answer: A Provisional Facility Approval is granted to teach the lower level, introductory courses. The Provisional Facility Approval form requires the name of the Fire Department and signature of the Fire Chief and Training Officer. The Form directly states what a facility must have to receive this approval. Upon signing, the Fire Chief and Training Officer are attesting to this fact.

An Unlimited Facility Approval is granted to a facility to teach advanced and/or specialized courses that require specific equipment. The Unlimited Facility Approval form is a checklist to determine what is available at the facility. This form requires the signature of the Fire Chief.

Question: : I would like to obtain course approval for training for certification, but do not have the facilities in my jurisdiction to complete the practical skill exams. What can I do?

Answer: Any Fire Department not having a required resource can utilize an equivalent resource that will satisfy the required objective. An example is if a Fire Department does not have a training tower to perform the practical objectives, it may utilize one of the regional training sites through the Fire Service Institute or another Fire Department's training facility that does satisfy the resource. The Fire Department must notate the additional resource on the facility approval form.

Question: What is needed on the course approval form?

Answer: Check the appropriate level which your department or organization wishes to teach. The department must have an instructor qualified to teach at each level that is being approved. The department must include the name of the instructor and their social security numbers for verification. The form requires the signature of the Fire Chief/Course Coordinator. The Course Approval is valid for 5 years. A new course approval form must be submitted every five years or when a new Fire Chief is hired. A new course approval form is due when additional courses are added.

Question: What if my Fire Department does not have a qualified instructor?

Answer: You may utilize any certified instructor whether that instructor is a member of your Fire Department or not. The certified instructor will be listed on your Fire Department as an instructor only.

Question: How do I receive an Instructor Reference Manual and a PowerPoint presentation, if available, on a CD?

Answer: All requests must be received in writing; you may either fax your request to us at 217/785-1001, or mail directly to the office at 1035 Stevenson Drive, Springfield, IL 62704. The only programs which you will receive on CD will the be courses your facility has course approval for, with the exception of Firefighter II, Fire Service Vehicle Operator, HazMat First Responder Awareness, and Technical Rescue Awareness.

Question: How long must a Fire Department keep training records?

Answer: The Division requires that records be kept a minimum of 5 years for audit purposes, BUT the Fire Department needs to verify their records retention period with their personal legal department. A Fire Department has an established records retention period with the Secretary of State which mandates how long any records must be maintained.

Question: What should training records contain?

Answer: The Illinois Administrative Code states:

  • Training records that reflect who was trained, objectives of subject taught referenced in the applicable Instructor Reference Manual, hours trained, by whom, how, when and where conducted.
  • A system of evaluating the effectiveness of the class, the instructor and all participants, including:
    1. Testing technique utilized: oral, written, practical or combination; and
    2. Performance appraisal and evaluation, such as ranking, factor comparison, grading, graphic rating scale, checklist.
  • Individual training records that show when each person began training in each subject area, the instructor to whom he/she is responsible, the objective of his/her training, intermediate goals, performance criteria, ultimate goal and estimated completion date.
  • Records of training. A training facility shall maintain and submit to the Office training records that contain the following:
    1. Location of training.
    2. Dates of training
    3. Hours of training and hours trained.
    4. Name of instructor - printed and signature.
    5. Name of trainee - printed and signature.
    6. Academic/practical training record.
    7. Subject training record correlated to objectives.
    8. Receipts of training expenses.
    9. Training facility documentation of training.

Question: Are electronic records acceptable as training records?

Answer: The Office accepts computerized training records as long as they are printed (individually for each student) and signed off by instructors and students at least once per month. This monthly printout must contain items listed in subsections (d) (4) (A)-(G) of the Illinois Administrative Code as listed above and be filed in the department at a location readily available for Office review.