The Fire Safety Director (FSD) written exam is one of the criteria by which individuals in New York City are evaluated to become Fire Safety Directors. Since the 1980s, all NYC high-rise business buildings, as well as all high-rise hotels and any buildings with a two-way voice communication fire-alarm system, have been legally required to have a Fire Safety Director. To become an FSD, you’ll need to complete three major requirements: (1) take the FSD training course, (2) take the written exam itself (which is only offered at Fire Headquarters), and (3) pass a building-specific on-site examination. The total testing and examination procedure usually takes 5–6 months to complete.
Take the required training course.
In order to attend a 20-hour FSD training course (which applicants are required to take before moving on to the FSD written exam), you must meet the initial three requirements. You’ll need to take the FSD training course in order to be qualified as either an FSD or a Deputy FSD (DFSD).
These courses last 4-5 sessions and typically cost between 200-250 dollars.
These training courses are offered at the Headquarters of the Fire District (FDNY) you’ll be applying to work in. Training courses can also be offered at other organizations or schools accredited by the FDNY.
New York city code states that high-rises must employ one FSD during regular business hours. In the FSD’s absence, a DFSD is required to take their place on-site. Most NYC buildings employ a single FSD, and many DFSDs.
FSDs (or DFSDs) are required to be on duty where there are more than 500 people in the building he or she supervises.
You must be at least 18 years of age.
In order to show this, applicants are required to show two pieces of personal identification. These items of identification can include a driver’s license, passport ID photo, and personal birth certificate.
Speak the English language well.
Since the FSD training course will be conducted entirely in English, it’s necessary that participants can speak conversational English. As part of this requirement, applicants will need to be answer questions—in English—given during the course of the examination.
Have experience working in fire prevention (or a similar field).
Participants in the training course are required to have worked for three to five years (depending on the FDNY you’re applying to work in) in a different fire-prevention job, or in a job using building-service equipment.
It’s also acceptable to apply for the FSD training course with a combination of fire-prevention and building-service-equipment jobs.
Score at least a 70% on the Graduation Test.
This is separate from the FSD Written Exam. Once you’ve attended and passed the FSD training course, you will need to complete your training by taking a Graduation Test. Participants must pass with a 70% in order to move on and take the FSD Written Exam.
There is a $25 fee, to be paid before the Graduation Test.
Find the location where the written exam is offered.
FSD Written Exams are usually offered at Fire Department Headquarters, in whichever FDNY you plan to become an FSD. For further information, you can contact FDNY Headquarters at 718-999-2000.
Otherwise, look online for FDNY headquarters and firehouse locations.
Apply for the FSD Written Exam.
The Written Test should be applied for separately from the FSD training course (which you will have already completed). You’ll apply for the Written Exam in-person at the FDNY district headquarters. A number of documents are required to apply to take the Exam. You’ll need to bring:
The “Application for FSD Certificate of Fitness” (a blue scan-able form)
A-20 (general Certificate of Fitness application form)
HR-FSD-2 (blue card)
Apply for the FSD Written Exam as soon as possible after the training course, so that you retain knowledge for the test. Try to schedule the test within 3 weeks of FSD training completion.
Study for the test.
The FSD written examination is a rigorous exam, and test-takers have 500 minutes (8 hours, 20 minutes) to complete the 100-question exam. The Exam will cover material including fire-safety and evacuation procedures, and equipment use, safety practices, and fire-safety inspection procedures.
You should have received a FSD textbook when you passed the FSD training course. Use this as your primary study tool.
Take a practice examination online.
There are multiple websites that offer sample practice FSD examinations. Take advantage of this opportunity, and complete the entire 500-minute practice exam online.
Complete the FSD Examination.
Pace yourself on the FSD written exam. 100 questions in 500 minutes means that you can take 5 minutes on each question. Although some may take longer, try to stick to a 5-minute-per-question average. You should plan to take the full 500-minute exam time. Also plan to answer every question on the FSD written exam, even if you’re not confident in your answer.
If you fail the FSD Written Exam, you will have one more opportunity to pass the Exam.
If you fail the FSD Written Exam twice, you may have to go back and re-take the training course. The training course Graduation Diploma is only valid for one year following training completion.
Receive your Certificate of Completion.
Once you have successfully passed the FSD Written Examination (on either your first or second try), you will receive a document called a Certificate of Completion. You’ll need to have this document in hand before you go on to complete the On-Site Test and complete your FSD requirements.
Apply to take the On-Site Test.
Although you will have passed the FSD Written Exam at this point, you’ll still need to complete one final portion of the FSD qualification process: the On-Site Exam. You’ll apply to take this at Fire Department Headquarters, in whichever FDNY you plan to become an FSD.
To complete the application, you’ll also need to submit a copy of the Fire Safety plan (for the building you’ll be working in as an FSD) to the FDNY Hi-Rise unit.
Plan to complete the application within 4–5 weeks of having completed the FSD Written Exam.
Study the building you’ll be taking the On-Site Test in.
Since you’ll be taking the On-Site Test in the specific building that you’ll be working in as an FSD, study the building—and its Fire Safety plan—closely. You’ll want to be aware of fire hazards in and around the building, and the building’s built-in fire suppression equipment (sprinkler systems, etc.)
Take the On-Site Test.
This will be administered (over the course of several hours) by an FDNY inspector. You will be expected to have detailed knowledge about the structure of the building, the fire-evacuation scenarios and how to extinguish fires in the building.
To pass the test, you will also need to be familiar with the building’s fire-alarm panel and how to operate the elevator.
If you fail the On-Site Test the first time, you’ll be permitted to re-take the test once. The application for your second Test must be submitted within one year after receiving the Certificate of Completion from the FSD Written Exam.
Receive your Certificate of Fitness.
A Certificate of Fitness is awarded when an individual has passed both the FSD Written Examination and the On-Site Test. The Certificate of Fitness is the document which permits you to work as an FSD or a DFSD in a NYC Fire District.
Your Certificate will need to be renewed annually, through the FDNY district headquarters. There is a $15 fee for renewals from 60 days prior expiration to 90 days following expiration. After 90 days, the renewal fee is raised to $25.
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