FAQs Concerning FDNY Certificate of Fitness(C-14) for Laboratories by John LaPerche – Fire/Life Safety Program

What is a Certificate of Fitness (C-14) for Supervising Non-production Chemical Laboratories and who requires one?

NYC Fire Code requires "at least one certificate of fitness holder be present on each floor of the laboratory unit … while the laboratory is in operation." Since most laboratory units on Columbia's campuses are divided by room, and not entire floors, to maintain compliance at least one person with a Certificate of Fitness must be present in the lab unit, when the lab is in operation. While the University recommends the "buddy" system when working in a laboratory, should only one person be in the laboratory working, that person must have a Certificate of Fitness. Please note, this includes nights, weekends and holidays, noting also that last Fall, FDNY commenced unannounced weekend inspections. EH&S encourages all members of the laboratory to obtain a Certificate of Fitness, offers weekly training for the C-14 and pays the $25.00 application fee. Go to http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/cof.html for more information on C-14.

What are the educational and experience requirements to get a C-14? The FDNY requires that applicants taking the test at the FDNY Headquarters must have one of the following diploma or transcript, in order to obtain a Certificate of Fitness:

  • A B.S., M.S. or Doctorate degree in Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental or Health Sciences, Medical Technology, Chemical, Environmental, Mechanical or Biomedical Engineering, or related field; or
  • A Doctor of Medicine or Dental Surgery (DDS); or
  • An A.A.S. or A.S. degree in Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental or Health Sciences, Medical Technology or Chemical, Environmental, Mechanical or Biomedical Engineering, or related field and completion of a course on laboratory safety provided by the employer; or 60 credits with minimum of 21 credits in applicable science or engineering courses, and completion of a course on laboratory safety provided by the employer.

FDNY has an "Alternate Issuance Program" (AIP) which allows EH&S to administer the C-14Fitness testing onsite at Columbia for laboratory personnel who qualify. However, FDNY does impose stricter qualifications for EH&S to operate under this AIP, including the requirement that applicants have a minimum of a B.S. plus 2 years of experience in the operation of chemical laboratories. All claimed experience must be post baccalaureate. If an applicant does not meet the minimum AIP requirement, then the test must be taken at FDNY Headquarters (Metrotech Center) in Brooklyn.

Why must I provide my Social Security number? This is a government regulation [General Obligation Law Section 3-503(2)] that requires all applicants for any city or state license to be checked to ensure that they are in compliance with their fulfillment of child support obligations.

I have been to the C-14 class, taken the test but not have received a Certificate of Fitness, is there something else I need to do? In order for EH&S to process a C-14 application and submit it to FDNY, all required forms must be filled out completely and accompanied by a diploma (in English or translated to English) or relevant transcripts and a passport sized photo (taken by EH&S). If EH&S does not receive all of the above items, the FDNY does not accept submission of the application (taken by EH&S). If EH&S does not receive all of the above items, the FDNY does not accept submission of the application.

I received a letter for my C-14 renewal from FDNY, does EH&S pay for renewals ? EH&S pays for your C-14 renewals. Approximately 1 to 2 months prior to its expiration, FDNY will mail a renewal letter to the home address listed on the Certificate of Fitness. When this letter is received, please promptly email fire-life@columbia.edu to confirm that EH&S will process your renewal. EH&S will also email C-14 holders prior to the expiration date to verify that they still work at Columbia and to update information including work and home address changes.

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