South Carolina Fire Academy

Protect. Prevent. Train. Respond.

Overview

Entities achieving accreditation are recognized as having met or exceeded nationally recognized standards for excellence in fire service training and education through extensive review by an independent third-party. Additionally, S.C. Fire Academy's accredited status assures candidates and governing bodies that completing accredited programs means the student has met the highest standards for performance for that certification level. Finally, accreditation ensures a uniformity of qualifications allowing students more mobility to advance their careers in other accredited states.

Written Exams

The written exam for each certification level contains 25 to 100 multiple choice questions. One hour up to 50 questions is allotted for each exam. A minimum score of 70 percent is required for successful completion. Students scoring less than 70 percent will be eligible to apply for retesting after 30 days from the test date.

Each certification exam is based entirely and solely on the NFPA standard for that level. For example, to prepare for the Firefighter I exam, candidates should review the NFPA 1001 - Level I standard as well as the text book for the class (s). Student should also carefully review the validated study material lists provided with each level of certification. A certification test may reference more than one manual or resource, and students should again refer to the standard for the specific information that will be tested.

Since the philosophy of a certification exam is to measure the overall knowledge of a student within a specific occupational area as well as the depth of that knowledge, students should fully prepare for the examination. Many test questions will be quite specific and detailed to a particular skill or task. There are a number of test preparation texts and programs available, and while these are neither required nor endorsed, they may help a student to identify strengths and weaknesses and to further prepare for the examination process.

Sample Questions

Oral Examination

Requests for an orally administered exam will be considered only for valid medical reasons.

The student must contact the Regional Coordinator or Course Coordinator and provide current medical documentation on physician/medical professional letterhead at the point of registration.

Notifications not made at the point of registration will be accommodated based on availability of additional Test Proctors to facilitate the oral test.

Re-Testing

This policy pertains to all cognitive and manipulative examinations administered by the South Caro­lina Fire Academy including Fire Service Professional Qualification accredited level exami­nations, with the exception of the SCFA 1211 Class “E” Driver Examination, which will be governed by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Classified E & F License Third Party Tester’s Safety Officer Manual for the South Carolina Fire Academy.

Individuals failing to obtain the required minimum score will be allowed two retest opportunities for each type of cognitive exam. For cognitive exams an immediate retest opportunity will be given, no sooner than one day after the original test failure, at the next available testing date, and no later than 120 days after the original test failure.

Students failing to obtain the required minimum score on the immediate retest opportunity shall be allowed a second retest opportunity a minimum of 30 days after the immediate retest opportunity. This will allow remediation and additional study. The first retest must be at least one day from the original test failure but no more than 120 days after the original test failure and the second retest, if needed, must be given 30 days from the immediate retest, but no later than 120 days after the original test failure.

 Students failing to obtain the required minimum score on the second retest opportunity will be allowed to appeal to the Accreditation Manager if the student feels the testing environment was not adequate or some type of external problem contributed to a failure on the retest. The decision of the Accreditation Manager is final on the appeal. If a third retest opportunity is granted through an appeal it can be taken no sooner than one day after the appeal approval, at the next available testing date, and no later than 120 days after the original test failure.

The entire retesting time period, to include the appeal process, shall take no longer than 120 days. Failure of the cognitive testing process will require the course of instruction to be repeated. Any retest must be completed at a time convenient with the course schedule, but the number of retests will be the same.

The 120-day completion deadline also applies to certification written exams administered independently of training courses such as in an approved challenge process. There is a three attempt limit per course challenge. If a student in the challenge process does not successfully complete the exam, it will be recommended that they complete our course of instruction for that level. 

Practical Exams

Practical certification exams may be conducted at the conclusion of certain courses while others are part of a Challenge process. Examples include: Firefighter I Practical Certification Exam is conducted at the conclusion of course 1153 - NFPA Firefighter I or 1403 - Hybrid Firefighter I.

Based on this evaluation method, these courses are prerequisites to completing the written certification examination. Students who are successful in the course should be prepared to take the practical skills exam. However, since the practical skills examinations contain several objectives, which they may be asked to perform, students should be prepared to perform all of the manipulative or practical objectives listed in the NFPA standard for that certification level. All practical skills tests are graded on a pass/fail system with a passing score required for successful completion of the certification exam. Passing means that the student performed the skill correctly, while failing means that the student performed the skill unsafe or to the point of being ineffective.

Should an individual fail to earn a passing grade on a manipulative skill on the first attempt, he/she is eligible for an immediate second attempt on that skill. In accordance with Section 6.3.2 a third attempt can be approved by the Lead Evaluator if 50% or greater of the skill steps were completed in a satisfactory manner on the first and second attempts. Note: Any failed attempt caused by a failure of a Critical Skill Step will automatically eliminate the third attempt consideration.

This must be done with no coaching from the evaluator. The students can be told what steps they failed and only that.

A student that fails their first testing opportunity (up to three attempts) is eligible for an immediate retesting opportunity (consisting of up to three attempts) in accordance with the procedure outlined above, during the next available testing date. Under circumstances requiring a different skill selection (i.e. limited resources) the Accreditation Manager or designee may select an alternative skill of equal level and difficulty.

A student who fails their immediate retesting opportunity (up to three attempts) is eligible for a second retesting opportunity (consisting of up to three attempts) in accordance with the procedure outlined above a minimum of 30 days after the immediate retest opportunity, but no later than 120 days after the first testing opportunity. This will allow for retraining and additional practice. The student will only have to be tested on the skill that was failed, not the entire skill evaluation.

Students failing to obtain the required minimum score on the second retest opportunity will be allowed to appeal to the Accreditation Manager if the student feels the testing environment was not adequate or some type of external problem contributed to a failure on the retest. The decision of the Accreditation Manager is final on the appeal.

If a third retest opportunity is granted through an appeal it can be taken no sooner than one day after the appeal approval, at the next available testing date, and no later than 120 days after the original test failure. Failure to complete the retest within 120 days shall require the student to repeat the entire training course to be eligible to test again.