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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is the official approval of an institution. The organization gets accredited - Qualified testing agencies and institutions are accredited. Accreditation entities do not actually certify anyone, the term "certification" is used to mean certification granted to an individual by an accredited agency.

What is Certification?

Certification is the verification that a candidate has successfully completed an evaluation of his/her knowledge, skills and abilities against a consensus standard by an accredited certification system/agency.

The Individual Fire Fighter gets CERTIFIED. Qualified people gain certification.

What is the difference between Accreditation and Certification?

Accreditation is the stamp of approval from a third party (IFSAC or Pro Board) review of an agency’s certification system. The review includes all aspects of certification testing including; completeness, fairness, security, validity and correlation to the national standards. Agencies such as state/provincial certification agencies, educational institutions, governmental entities, and national organizations are accredited.

Certification is the verification that a candidate has successfully completed an evaluation of his/her knowledge, skills and abilities against the national standard. Individuals that successfully pass a certification exam are certified.

Candidates that are certified by an accredited agency have the value added of the assurance that the test they took accurately measured them against the standard.

What is Reciprocity?

Reciprocity is the recognition of an individual’s previous accredited certification to a standard by an accredited agency that did not issue the certification. Reciprocity is granted without any required testing, to those individuals who have been certified at an occupational level by an IFSAC or Pro Board accredited entity.

What is equivalency?

Equivalency is the awarding of program credit to those individuals who have received training at an occupational level to a national standard by an entity not accredited by IFSAC or Pro Board. This program credit allows the individuals to meet prerequisites to challenge the certification examination for the appropriate level or continue to the next level within the certification program.

What special testing is required for Certification?

Accredited entities, such as the SCFA, are required to have the ability to test the entire NFPA Professional Qualification Standard for the subject area. For written and practical skills, the Academy will use the same testing elements for IFSAC and Pro Board. ProBoard and IFSAC do not require separate testing.

I am certified through IFSAC or Pro Board. What do I need to do to achieve ProBoard or IFSAC certifications?

If a South Carolina firefighter was previously certified through IFSAC or Pro Board before January 15, 2015, he will need to retest (written exam only) for the specific level. Unfortunately, the two accrediting groups do not allow transfer from one to the other. If a firefighter is certified from one, he can move forward in the certification process (i.e. student has an IFSAC certification for Fire Officer I, he can enroll and become certified as a Fire Officer II through IFSAC and ProBoard).

If a firefighter moves from another state and is certified through ProBoard or IFSAC, how does he/she transfer their certifications into South Carolina?

ProBoard and IFSAC accreditation allows the S.C. Fire Academy to accept ProBoard or IFSAC certifications for reciprocity, as long as the Academy is accredited to that specific level.

When I get my IFSAC certificate, will I also receive a ProBoard Certificate?

Once a student successfully completes testing, for areas where we are ProBoard accredited, the SCFA will issue an IFSAC certificate. The student will also receive an Application for Registration and Certification for ProBoard. Academy staff will complete the “Certifying Entity Confirmation” section. The student must complete the applicant information section and submit it, along with a $15 processing fee, to ProBoard. The fee will change to $17.50 on January 1, 2017 per ProBoard. ProBoard will register the candidate in the ProBoard National Registry and mail a certificate to the student.

Note: The SCFA achieved accreditation through ProBoard on January, 15, 2015. A student who received an IFSAC certificate from the SCFA prior to January 15, 2015 for a level which is now also recognized by ProBoard may take the challenge exam in order to receive an application for a ProBoard certificate.

Jonathan Jones,   State Fire Marshal
TOLL FREE (800) 896-1070 
RECEPTIONIST (803) 896-9800 
ACADEMY FAX (803) 896-9856
South Carolina Fire Academy
141 Monticello Trail Columbia | S.C. 29203