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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
  Getting Your Certificate of Fitness (C of F)  
  By Glen Stoltz



This will tell you most of what you need to know to get your C of F, or Certificate of Fitness, and will also help you find more info, should you have further questions.

Certificate of Fitness examinations are conducted Monday through Friday excepting legal holidays from 8:30 AM until 2:30 PM. Before you go, get these things together:

1. A letter of recommendation from your employer. The format for the letter is on the website, and must be on your employer’s letterhead. If you aren’t currently employed, you can still take the test, but won’t be ISSUED a certificate until you have a job and employer recommendation letter.

2. A rough diagram of your building, showing the locations of the standpipes and/or sprinklers involved. It’s good to also bring some #2 pencils and a pen.

Take those two items, along with your driver’s license or other state-issued picture ID to 9 Metro Tech Center, in downtown Brooklyn (A, C or F train to Jay Street/Borough Hall; many other trains also stop nearby). Enter the facility through the Flatbush Avenue entrance.

You will need your picture ID to get into the building, and will go through a machine similar to those at airports. Don’t leave home or work with the tools on your belt that a super often wears: it may cause problems. If you have anything on you or in your bag that has a knife, such as a multi-tool, you will be turned away – be sure to leave them at home.

After getting inside 9 Metro Tech, you’ll see that the system of numbers and counter windows is similar to those at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. You’ll stop at the desk, where you’ll be given a number and forms to fill out: a “Certificate of Fitness Application”, (which asks for your personal info – name, address, SS#, date of birth, color hair and eyes, etc.) and a “Sprinkler/Standpipe Preapplication Questionnaire”, (which asks for information on your building -- type(s) of sprinkler or standpipe systems, how the water is supplied, where the riser control valves are located, etc, how many pumps, if any, and location(s)).

These are all questions about your building’s system designed to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the system you will be charged with supervising, inspecting and/or maintaining.

If you need study materials you can ask for them and study right there, but it’s better to get the materials you need online at long before you go, and study it until you’re ready to be tested. You can download a PDF file of the particular information you need to study and print it out. You can also download and fill out the “Certificate of Fitness Application” and the Sprinkler/Standpipe Preapplication Questionnaire” referred to above.

You will either be issued another number, or be told to have a seat until your number comes up again to get your picture taken for the certificate at another window. After that, you’ll wait again for your number to come up, whereupon you’ll go to pay your fee of 25 dollars at yet another window. You can pay using cash, check or money order.

After paying you will go straight into the test room, where your paperwork will be inspected by an employee, and you’ll be assigned to a touch screen computer terminal. When you’re ready your test will begin. You will not be allowed to leave the test room for any reason until you test is completed, so be sure your phone calls and bathroom breaks are finished before you start. There is a set amount of time (200 minutes) to complete the test. If you haven’t run out of time you can go back and re-check your answers. If you’re not finished you will nevertheless have to stop at the end of the allotted time.

Questions are all multiple choice; only one answer is the correct one. There are 40 questions, and you must get at least 70% correct to pass. If you do not pass, you can come back again to retake it after a week goes by. You’ll pay another 25 dollars.

Whether you pass or fail, you will be informed of that on screen before you leave the terminal. If you pass, you can wait by the desk for your certificate, which will be issued almost immediately. It’s credit card size, with your issue date, expiration date, picture, signature, work address and home address. Also on the face of the card is the category of certificate, along with the type, description, and certificate number.

If you fail the test, you will also wait by the desk for your papers, which you will bring with you next time. Most of the time it’s only a few minutes to wait, pass or fail.

Your certificate must be renewed on a timely basis (most if not all are good for 3 years from date of issuance), and you should be issued a renewal reminder letter before your expiration date. But don’t wait, keep it somewhere handy and remind yourself; you can renew it up to 60 days before it comes due, but if it’s more than 90 days past due, a late fee will be assessed, and if more than a year past due, you will probably have to retake the test.

If you have online access, go to the website shown above and familiarize yourself further with the procedures. You’ll be even better prepared for an already relatively easy experience.

Prepare yourself also with a good attitude check before going. You’ll have easier going if you can deal, with humor and patience, with city employees. It’s not always easy and many of them, sad to say, don’t try to make it any easier for you.

If you have questions still unanswered, email the COF Unit at, or call them at 718-999-1988.


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