How to Renew Your Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) Firefighter Certification

Updated on May 22, 2018
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Daniel has over a decade of Texas EMS and public service experience.

Renewing Your TCFP Certification

Renewing your Texas firefighter certification can be confusing if you're not an active member of a Texas fire department. Fortunately, the Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) makes individual renewal of the Basic Structure Firefighter certification simple to complete.

This article provides the information needed for individual renewal. Some certificate holders choose to maintain certification while they experience new job markets or focus on other life priorities. The ease of the renewal process means that no certified firefighter should lose their certification unless they choose to let it lapse or have disciplinary actions taken against them.

This article provides information on :

  • Requirements for TCFP Basic Structure Firefighter individual renewal.
  • How to find and complete continuing education.
  • How to renew your certification through FIDO.
  • What to do if your certification is expired.
  • How to use listed navigation points for your success.

Renewing your TCFP certification as an individual is straight forward if you know how to navigate the process.

Requirements for Individual Certification Renewal

The Texas Commission on Fire Protection (TCFP) is the governing body for the Texas Basic Structure Firefighter certificate.

TCFP certifications are valid for one year and require annual continuing education (CE), valid EMT/EMR certification, and a renewal fee to stay in good standing. All TCFP firefighter certifications expire on October 31st of each year.

TCFP offers over 40 types of certifications. This is only dealing with the Basic Structure Firefighter certificate. If you have additional certifications, you will require additional continuing education.

Firefighters working for a paid department will have their certification renewed by their department and require only 18 hours of CE. A non affiliated individual, such as yourself, is known as an individual renewal. Individual renewals require 20 hours of continuing education each renewal period. CE requirements are discussed in the following section.

Once the required CE is complete, firefighters will pay a renewal fee of $75.00 plus any applicable late fees. These are the basic requirements for renewing your TCFP Basic Structure Firefighter certification.

All renewal standards are stated in Chapter 441 of the Texas Administration Code.

Summarized:

  • TCFP Basic Structure Firefighter Certification requires annual renewal.
  • All TCFP Basic Structure Firefighter Certifications expire on October 31st
  • Twenty hours of continuing education are required for Individual Renewal.
  • A $75.00 certification fee plus any additional late fees are required at the time of renewal.

What is Continuing Education?

Continuing education (CE) is intended to maintain or increase the knowledge and skills pertinent to the fire service. CE is the additional training or classes conducted during each renewal period to stay proficient as a firefighter.

Individuals renewals require 20 hours of annual CE. The hours each CE course provides is normally located in its course description and most CE courses range from 1 to 3 credited CE hours. It is reasonable to expect a total of eight to twelve courses to meet your annual requirement. It is the responsibility of the individual to maintain records of their continuing education and all CE records must be kept for a total of three years following class completion. The TCFP can audit a firefighter's certification at any time and will request these records.

Continuing education is available via a variety of avenues:

  • Online CE (Course Fee)
  • National Fire Academy (Free)
  • In Person Training (Varies)
  • Fire Science College Courses

Each of these avenues contain different costs, time allowances, and variances. The following is a breakdown to help you decide on the best CE for you.

Online CE

The easiest CE for individual renewals is the online CE option. Websites such as Medic CE or CE Solutions are favorites within the individual renewal community. I have used both successfully based on recommendations.

The benefit of using reputable online CE sources is that they have the courses you need, provide easy access to your records in the event of an audit, and can be completed at any time. Most courses are self paced and can be completed quickly, if needed.

The cost for online CE varies. Online CE providers offer packages from $35.00 to $200. If you're not in a rush, take time to look through the approved online CE list on the TCFP website and find the curriculum that best suits your interest. If you're reading this in a pinch, my suggestion is to purchase the $60 package and knock out twenty hours via CE Solutions.


National Fire Academy

The National Fire Academy (NFA) is one of the most underused resources by firefighters. The NFA offers everything from free online courses to the prestigious four year Executive Fire Officer Program.

The NFA is operated by FEMA and the United States Fire Administration. If you have taken a NIMS course (ICS 100, 200) you already have a login ID for the NFA.

Check out their online education courses for free CE and explore the additional in person opportunities available through a great resource.


In Person Training

Fire department training is best for maintaining psychomotor skills. Many volunteer fire departments have weekly or monthly training drills that may allow you to participate. It is best to contact the department's training coordinator to see if this option is available to you and if the training is offered via TCFP CE standards. It is important to digitally copy any training record and to securely store it in the event of an audit.

In addition to fire departments, the Texas Department of Public Safety offers free classes via Preparing Texas. Preparing Texas is a free resource to any First Responder with training available every week of the year.

Fire Science College Courses

Any fire science course taken during college curriculum counts toward your CEs. Be sure to maintain a copy of your college transcript and provide it if necessary. Contact the TCFP for exact CE hours awarded, if not explicitly stated.

The best route for acquiring annual CE is balancing between online and in person courses in order to best maintain your skills. If you're in a rush, online CE is the best option. If you have time, you can acquire all CE for no cost due to other available training opportunities. The key is keeping official completion records of each event.

Make sure you confirm that an online course offers credited CEs.  (Example: NFA Self Study)
Make sure you confirm that an online course offers credited CEs. (Example: NFA Self Study)

How Do I Renew My Certification?

Certification renewal will take place via TCFP's FIDO page.

FIDO is the hub for all TCFP certificate holders and contains all of your personal information. If you have not created a new account with the updated FIDO system, this will be your first step. You will need your TCFP PIN to create your new account. If you do not remember your TCFP PIN, search your email for the original FIDO set up or contact the help desk for further information.

Once you have account access you will taken to your FIDO dashboard. Click on the "Renewal" link and follow the listed instructions. The current renewal link does not allow complete online renewal. FIDO is still under construction until September 1, 2018 and requires a phone call.

When you contact the listed number (512-936-3838), you will be taken through two voice recordings that lead to a live operator. State that you wish to renew your certificate, provide you TCFP pin number (located in the top right of your FIDO dashboard), and provide any additional information. There will be no request for your CEs. You only need to provide proof of CE if audited.

Following the phone call, an invoice will appear in FIDO and you will pay via credit or debit card like a standard online purchase. Once paid, your certification is renewed with instant proof of certification. The entire process will take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes.

Your FIDO PIN (upper right) and the Renewal Link (bottom left) are easy to find on the FIDO dashboard.
Your FIDO PIN (upper right) and the Renewal Link (bottom left) are easy to find on the FIDO dashboard.

What If My Certification Is Expired?

You have one year to renew an expired certification. If your certification expired on 10/31/2017, you have until 10/31/2018 to renew. If you do not renew by the one year deadline, you must retest for your certification.

There are two significant differences when renewing an expired certification:

  1. A late fee will be added to your renewal charge. If it is less than 30 days expired, the total amount will be $112.50. If it is greater than 30 days, but within one year, it will be $150.00.
  2. Your certification will only be renewed until 10/31 of the following year. If you renew on September 1st, you only receive two months of renewed certification and will need to renew again with twenty additional CEs by October 31st.

If you are over your one year mark and missed time during the renewal year due to military leave, sick leave, or injury leave, contact the TCFP and ask if you eligible for a waiver.

Which best describes you?

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Additional Resources

The Texas Commission on Fire Protection provides an excellent web platform for navigating the CE process. This section just provides the most pertinent links regarding CE and renewal:

TCFP Individual Renewal Page
TCFP CE Required Hours Page
TCFP CE Sources Page
Texas Administrative Code Regarding Certification Renewal

When in doubt, contact the TCFP. They provide excellent customer service and are normally quick to find resolution to any questions or conflicts that you may have.

TCFP Basic Structure Firefighter Certificate Quiz

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Conclusion

Renewing your TCFP Basic Firefighter Certification simple.

  • Acquire 20 hours of continuing education
  • Renew your certification via FIDO
  • Pay any subsequent late fees
  • Maintain CE records for three year in the event of an audit.

Any additional questions can be handled via the TCFP help line listed earlier in the article. Congratulations on being a Texas Firefighter and best of luck with your renewal.

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