NFPA 1021: Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications

NFPA 1021

In this, we will be talking about NFPA 1021 (Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications). This article will cover the highlight and purpose of the standard as enacted by the NFPA on their official web page.

Before we get into the business of the day, let’s have an overview of what NFPA is:


Since 1896, the NFPA has developed standards directly affecting the fire service at the department level. As an advocate of fire prevention and an authoritative source on public safety, the NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. The NFPA’s National Fire Codes are administered by more than 250 Technical Committees comprised of approximately 8,000 volunteers and are adopted and used throughout the world.

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NFPA 1021 Standard For Fire Officer Professional Qualifications

In 1971, the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations (JCNFSO) created the National Professional Qualifications Board (NPQB) for the fire service to facilitate the development of nationally applicable performance standards for uniformed fire service personnel. In December 1972, the Board established four Technical Committees to develop those standards using the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards-making system. The initial committees addressed the following areas: Firefighters, Fire officers, Fire service instructors, and Fire inspectors and investigators.

In July 1976, the NFPA adopted the first edition of NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications. The original concept of the professional qualification standards was to develop an interrelated set of performance standards specifically for the fire service. The various levels of achievement in the standards were to build on each other within a strictly defined career ladder. In the late 1980s, revisions of the standards recognized that the documents should stand on their own merit in terms of job performance requirements for a given field.

Accordingly, the strict career ladder concept was abandoned, except for the progression from firefighter to fire officer. The later revisions, therefore, facilitated the use of the documents by other than the uniformed fire services. The intent of the Technical Committee for NFPA 1021 was to develop clear and concise job performance requirements that can be used to determine that an individual, when measured to the standard, possesses the skills and knowledge to perform as a fire officer. The committee further contends that these job performance requirements can be used in any fire department in any city, town, or private organization throughout North America.

Note: The following text and checklist represent extracted sections of the standard and commentary on those sections. A statement, written or oral, that is not processed in accordance with Section 6 of the Regulations Governing Committee Projects shall not be considered the official position of NFPA or any of its Committees and shall not be considered to be, nor be relied upon as, a Formal Interpretation.

NFPA 1021 Highlights

1.1 Scope: This standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements (JPRs) for fire officers.

A.1.1: It is envisioned that in addition to the requirements of NFPA 1021, the authority having jurisdiction may require additional credentials. These can include fire degree programs and general education in business, management, science, and associated degree curricula.

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NFPA 1021 can be applied to any fire service personnel meeting the minimum requirements for fire officers. NFPA 1021 was designed from a task analysis of job performance requirements (JPRs). It cannot address all needs from every organization or agency. Each AHJ is encouraged to establish additional recommendations including, but not limited to, continuing education credits and/or higher education enabling the fire officer to have a broad approach to the leadership position.

1.2 Purpose: The purpose of this standard shall be to specify the minimum job performance requirements for serving as a fire officer.

1.2.1: The intent of the standard is to define progressive levels of performance required at the various levels of officer responsibility. The authority having jurisdiction has the option to combine or group the levels to meet its local needs and to use them in the development of job descriptions and specifying promotional standards.

1.2.2: It is not the intent of this standard to restrict any jurisdiction from exceeding these minimum requirements.

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1.2.3: This standard shall cover the requirements for the four levels of progression — Fire Officer I, Fire Officer II, Fire Officer III, and Fire Officer IV.


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