A comprehensive online firestop inspection training and education program has been developed by the International Firestop Council (IFC) for code officials, inspectors and all building trades professionals associated with commercial building firestopping from design through installation.
The IFC Recommended Training and Education for Third-Party Firestop Inspectors program is a free 40 to 60-hour, firestopping self-study program that educates via recommended outsourced videos, PowerPoint presentations and documents all available via 22 Internet website links from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), International Code Council (ICC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), the IFC and other industry-leading sites.
The IFC created the program, because the industry's one-day classes and other training and education programs were either limited in depth, or not conveniently structured as online programs where applicants learn at a self-study pace on a computer, smartphone or printouts of public domain material.
The program is also important, because the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) requires special inspection of firestopping for buildings over 75-feet-high and for Risk Category III and IV facilities in compliance with ASTM E 2174 and E 2393 standards. The IFC program is the only curriculum currently available that provides third-party inspectors with the high training and competency level required to conduct such inspections. The program's syllabus is available as an interactive webpage or downloadable nine-page document at www.firestop.org/inspection.
While there is no charge for the program's self-study portion, registrants can opt for a two-hour, $250 ($500 after July 31, 2014) IFC-sponsored online, post-training certification test, which requires a minimum passing grade of 80-percent.
The exam’s comprehensiveness is illustrated in recent IFC beta test results of several veteran firestop industry experts who did not achieve optimal exam grades. "Even firestop experts would find this test challenging if they don’t go through the self-study curriculum," said test co-author, Pat Tesche, Firestop Inspectors Committee chair of the IFC, which is a Washington-based not-for-profit trade association of manufacturers, distributors, installers and inspectors of passive fire protection materials and systems in North America. "So spending the hours needed to study the entire online curriculum will allow any dedicated student to succeed in the exam, whether they are starting from a low or high level.”
Passing students will receive a certificate from the IFC and a free listing at the www.firestop.org website. A free enhanced website listing is also available for students opting for two-hour, hands-on product training from four or more participating firestop manufacturers. "The theory and reading is very effective when combined with hands-on training, and will enable the IFC to offer firestop inspection competence and excellence to the construction industry," said John Valiulis, IFC's Code Action Committee chair.
The program's other features include:
- a Study Skills refresher posted by Athabasca University for registrants that haven't taken educational courses recently.
- a free pre-exam practice test can be taken online to evaluate full exam readiness.
- the test consists of 85 questions with multiple choice answers.
"Ultimately, well-trained, knowledgeable firestop inspectors will help reduce property loss as well as save lives during a fire," said James P. Stahl Jr., CFPS, president of IFC. "The construction industry and building officials should accept nothing less than special inspectors who have completed this program."