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IFE Level 3 or 4 as a FF


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I’ve been in the job nearly four years now and have started looking into doing my IFEs to expand my knowledge. As a firefighter, I gather that the route taken by most at my stage is the Level 3 certificate (Fire science, operations, fire safety and management) with the four 1 hours exams for each unit.

Having spoken to my WM, he recommended just bypassing all of the level 3 qualifications completely and studying for the level 4 certificates (he said this was recommended to him in the past, but chose not to and now regrets it) - the reasoning being that if you’re putting in all the hours studying, you might as well just do a bit more and aim to get the higher qualification. 

Has anyone on here either gone for Level 4 as a firefighter or knows someone who has? Just looking for a sounding board really! 

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When I did them, they were categorised as the Intermediate, Graduate and Members papers. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. They are designed to be progressive and as much as you can study for the Level 4s as they now call them, you will bypass those below as well as the knowledge and learning that goes with them. 

By undertaking them from the start, you will progressively build up an underpinning knowledge which will then make the the harder papers easier. I guess its down to personal choice. 

In GMFRS you had to have your Intermediates to get a CM job, the Grads to get a WM job and then the Members to get a SM job. This unfortunately, like everything else, has been watered down over the years and now I ain't sure what you need. 

The old Fire Service Exams did what they were supposed to.

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Im an IFE examiner and can see both sides.  I only ever sat my level 4 papers as I took the view of your WM. The syllabus for each paper does build on the previous papers however from experience you’ll end up studying the entire syllabus if you opt straight for level 4.  However Carl is right in that going straight to level 4 is a much bigger undertaking and tends to make the jump harder.


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In GMFRS you need Level 3 Diploma Unit 6: Fire Service operations and incident command to be promoted up to WM. SM and above is the Level 4 Certificate, not sure which unit. It used to be the Level 3 Certificate (not diploma) you needed just for CM and there were four separate papers you had to pass to get the qual. The diploma is higher than the certificate but you now only need one exam. So whether it's watered down or not is down to interpretation. Personally I'm in favour of just bringing exams back in house. 

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SYFRS use the IFE's at all levels. Development FF need the Level 2 Certificate to be deemed competent, FF to CM need the Level 3 Certificate, it used to be all 4 parts but they have just dropped the Fire Science requirement (shortly after I'd passed it). CM to WM need the Level 3 Diploma in Ops/IC and WM to SM need the Level 3 Diploma in Fire Safety and Level 4 in Ops/IC. I've completed all the IFE's my brigade would fund up to SM level despite me only just moving up to T/CM, personally I found it beneficial to just complete each stage in order and then top up my knowledge for the next level. I've also passed the Level 3 FI but failed the Fire Engineering Science diploma, not sure I'll revisit that as it's self funded and in my opinion covers very little fire service relevant topics. If you want to expand on specific fire service knowledge outside of the IFE's then definitely look at the Distance Learning Fire and Rescue BSc (hons) from the University of Wolverhampton, the modules I've completed so far have improved my knowledge and understanding greatly. It's not free and my brigade wont fund it but in the long term it will be beneficial to me in my career. I started in the 2nd year due to prior qualifications.  

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