Fire guards are known to play a very crucial role in keeping the residents of large buildings safe. Local government code may specify when, where and how many Fire Guards are required in a building.

But if there is a fire alarm, sprinkler or standpipe out of service in New York City, a fire guard is expected to be present to perform fire watch duties. New York City requires that Fire Guards be trained and licensed to work in residential or commercial buildings.

Fire Guards are also mandated by law to offer safe operation for construction sites where an open flame is in use. At least one Fire Guard is required in places where the public gathers, like shelters, film studios, hotels, office buildings and marinas when there is no sprinkler system or the fire protection system is out of service.

To become a fire guard in New York City, you are expected to be at least 18 years of age and posse a reasonable understanding of the English language. You are also expected to provide two forms of identification. At least one of them must be government issued photo identification, such as a State-issued Drivers’ License or Non Drivers License or passport.

Anyone looking to become a fire guard in New York City is also expected to present a letter of recommendation from their employer. The letter must be on an official letterhead, and should state your full name, experience and the address where you will work. If you are self-employed or the owner of the company, you are expected to submit a notarized letter stating that status.

For anyone who is not currently employed, you may take the test without the recommendation letter. If you pass the test, FDNY will issue a temporary letter with a photo for job seeking purposes. However, you will not receive a Certificate of Fitness card unless you are employed and provide the recommendation letter from your employer.

Note that aside its major duty to fight fires, the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) administers and enforces building fire code policies to promote fire safety and prevention.

Properly Certified by the FDNY, licensed fire guards always play an important role in enforcing building fire code policies and promoting public safety. Different types of buildings and settings where fire guards are deployed require different types of knowledge, so the FDNY has developed different certifications.

Also note that all exams are given at the FDNY’s Public Certification Unit located on the first floor at 9 MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. A $25 new application fee is required for each certification. Renewals need to be made every 3 years ($5 fee). Generally, applications are reviewed and processed within 1-2 days.

Steps to Get a Fire Guard Certification in New York City

The City of New York mandates any building occupied by at least 100 people to have a fire guard on the site. This requirement applies to hotels, office buildings, and civil services or public buildings. To become a fire guard, you are expected earn the certificate of fitness from the New York Fire Department, or FDNY. Indeed this process can take some time, as you have to train, take an exam and arrange a site test.

  1. Know the Eligibility Criteria

First, you are expected to meet the basic eligibility requirements before starting the process to become a certified fire guard. Just like it was stated above, you are expected to be at least 18 years of age, possess a high school diploma or equivalent, and show that you have three years’ experience working in fire prevention or with building service equipment. You must provide a notarized affidavit from a current or previous employer to prove that you have this experience.

  1. Complete the Training

The next step will be to complete a fire guard training course at a school accredited by the FDNY. This course tends to include a minimum of 20 hours of instruction and at least two hours of practical work. Also note that you will have to take a test at the end of your training and must earn a passing score of 70 percent to graduate and get a diploma. Even though you can take the test twice, but if you don’t pass at the second attempt, you’ll have to take the course again. Once you have your diploma, you have one year to apply to take the fire guard certification.

  1. Take the Exam

Before the advent of Covid-19 and all other implications, the exams were given Monday through Friday each afternoon at FDNY headquarters. However, now you will have to schedule a test online, and plan to bring eligibility documents and pay the $25 fee when you arrive for the test. The computer-based exam takes three hours and features 100 multiple-choice questions about fire and building systems; emergency procedures; training; and regulations. To earn a certificate of completion, you are expected to score of at least 70 percent. You may take the exam twice; if you don’t pass after two attempts, you must take the training course again.

  1. Schedule the Site Exam

Have it in mind that you have just one year after passing the written exam to schedule the site test. You must ask your supervisor or building manager to book this online and to pay the fee. During the 3- to 3½-hour test, an examiner will present you with scenarios and ask you to describe your response in those situations. Also note that you will have to complete practical demonstrations, such as operating an elevator in an emergency. The passing score is 70 percent; if you fail, you can take the test one more time. Fire guard certification is valid for three years.

Conclusion

Fire guards are required to reduce the threat of fires in a variety of locations. They are responsible for making certain that fire safety regulations are complied with. However, to maintain your status as a Certified Fire Guard in New York City, you must renew your certificate each year by submitting your renewal notification or a letter stating the Certificate of Fitness number with a fee of $15, money order or personal check payable to “Fire Department City of New York “to: FDNY (Cashier’s Unit), 9 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Ajaero Tony Martins