Boston Certification

In August of 2007, a fire in West Roxbury took the lives of two Boston Fire Fighters. The fire ignited in the kitchen and spread into the kitchen exhaust system, where it burned in the duct work for over an hour. The resulting investigation revealed serious deficiencies in the kitchen exhaust system, and a failure to properly clean and maintain the system.

In response to this, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance that requires certification for exhaust cleaners that do any work in commercial kitchens within the City of Boston. Boston contacted IKECA™ to develop and implement a certification protocol to meet the needs of the city. IKECA™ developed two unique certifications for the City:

  • The Boston Certified Cleaning Specialist™ (BCCS™) and
  • The Boston Certified System Inspector™ (BCSI™).

Effective May, 2009, all exhaust cleaners and inspectors must be certified through this program, and apply for and receive a license from the City of Boston Fire Department.

Effective February 1, 2015, The Boston Certified Cleaning Specialist ™ (BCCS™) has been revised to reflect NFPA 96 2011 and Boston-specific work requirements.

Both require that the applicant sign and abide by a Code of Professional Conduct.

Both certifications are renewable every three (3) years.

Certification through this program does not require membership in IKECA. The BCCS™ and BCSI™ certifications are applicable only to the City of Boston and do not provide IKECA certification for any other municipality, state or jurisdiction.

IKECA’s Involvement

IKECA™ is an approved certification body for the Fire Department’s program, and designs and administers the exams for the City. IKECA is a trade association representing kitchen exhaust cleaners and inspectors all over the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Certification?
Certification is a knowledge-based recognition of an individual who shows a competency on the guidelines, codes and standards in the industry. By studying the materials and passing the test, a student shows that they have a working knowledge of the required codes and standards that apply to the entire industry.

Neither training nor certification guarantees that any company or individual will do a good job. Some organizations offer “certification for life” and others let candidates take open book exams. IKECA’s programs are different. We believe that individuals should continue their education well beyond the exam, and that those that we certify, uphold the most thorough Code of Conduct and Ethics in the industry.
For more information, visit the IKECA website.

Q: Why do I need to get certified to work in the City of Boston?
In May, 2008, the City Council passed an Ordinance requiring that all contractors who clean or inspect commercial kitchen exhaust systems within the City limits obtain and maintain certification.

Q: What is the process to meet the requirements of the ordinance?
Fill out an application and send it along with payment to the IKECA offices. You will receive a confirmation of the date and location of your exam.

Once you take the exam, you will receive a results letter from IKECA. If you have passed, IKECA will send your certificate and ID card to the Boston Fire Department. You will need to apply for the license. The Boston Fire Department will send your certificate and ID card along with your license.

Q: What is on the exam?
Both the BCCS™ and BCSI™ exams are based on the NFPA 96 (2011) and requirements as outlined by the City of Boston.

Q: How long is my certification good for?
Both Boston Certifications are good for a period of three (3) years.

Q: What is IKECA?
IKECA is an international trade association representing cleaners and inspectors of commercial kitchen exhaust systems.

Q: Do I have to join IKECA to get certified in Boston?
No. IKECA is able to administer the BCCS™ and BCSI™ to contractors doing work in Boston, without requiring membership. We certainly encourage you to consider the benefits of joining.

Q: Is my Boston certification good anywhere else?
No. The BCCS™ and BCSI™ are specific to the City of Boston and are not recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or any other outside jurisdictions.

Q: Does getting certified in Boston make me an IKECA Member?
No. Membership in IKECA is not included in the certification program. If you would like to become an IKECA member company, please contact IKECA for more information.

Q: Can I use the IKECA logo?
No. The IKECA logo is for use by active IKECA members. Certifying as a BCCS™ and/or BCSI™ does not give permission for use of the IKECA logo or permission to represent your company as a member of IKECA.

Q: How do I renew my Certification?
If your certification has already expired, or is set to expire prior to January 1, 2017 you will be required to retake the full exam to reinstate your certification.
If your certification expires after January 1, 2017, you are eligible to renew by successfully completing the corresponding renewal quiz.

Exam Information

BCCS and BCSI Exam and Quiz Application

The Application must be filled out completely and submitted with payment to IKECA via mail, email or fax, and IKECA must receive within fifteen (15) days before your exam date preference.

Please click here for the 2018 Boston Certification Exam and Quiz Application

Each exam/quiz session at Florian Hall, Boston Fire Fighters Local 718, is limited to a maximum capacity of 8 registrations and are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. If your first choice is unavailable, you will automatically be registered for your second choice. IKECA will email you if you do not get your first choice. Application and exam date confirmations will be sent via the email address provided.

A private proctor may also be used. In order to set up a privately proctored IKECA exam, you must find a qualified proctor to administer the exam. You will need to contact the proctor to arrange an appointment to take the exam that is convenient for both of you. The exam must be taken at a Public Library, Testing Center, or College/University. Any other facility that the exam applicant wants to take the exam must be approved by IKECA.
If using a private proctor, please fill out this form and send with your exam application.
Incomplete applications will be returned.

Exam Preparation

The Boston Certified Cleaning Specialist ™ (BCCS™) exam and quiz, and the The Boston Cleaning System Inspector™ (BCSI™) exam and quiz, covers various codes specific to cleaning as outlined in NFPA 96 2011 as well as Boston-specific codes, as provided by the City of Boston. Boston codes include:

  • Guidelines for Loss of Registration for Hood Exhaust Cleaners and Inspectors
  • Notify BFD when your contract to clean an exhaust vent has been canceled
  • Sample Inspection and Deficiency Report
  • Sticker Requirements Instructions and Usage
  • Sample On-site Exhaust System Diagram
  • Boston Registered Cleaners & Inspectors

Purchase a print copy of  the NFPA 96 2011 here.
Purchase a PDF copy of the NFPA 96 2011 here.

More information about the City of Boston’s criteria of conditions for Exhaust Vent Cleaners and Inspectors who wish to perform work in the City of Boston can be found here.

Performing Your Best

Substantial effort is made to ensure that test questions are written in a clear, direct, and straightforward manner. Candidates with sufficient knowledge of commercial kitchen exhaust inspection and related codes and standards are likely to score well and pass the test; candidates with insufficient knowledge are unlikely to attain a passing score.

IKECA recommends these three test-taking strategies to maximize your performance on the exam:

  1. The test is timed, and proctors must adhere strictly to the time limits. Therefore, you should not spend an excessive amount of time on any one question. Return to the more difficult questions after completing all other questions.
  2. Scores are based only on the number of correct answers. Therefore, you should answer each question, even if you must guess.
  3. All answers must be recorded on the answer sheet. Candidates are responsible for recording their answers in the appropriate spaces on the form. If a question is skipped, the corresponding space on the answer sheet must also be skipped.

General Information

BCCS

Effective May, 2009: All companies/contractors engaged in the cleaning of commercial kitchen exhaust systems within the City of Boston are required to have at least one person on each work crew successfully certified as a Boston Certified Cleaning Specialist (BCCS). The successful candidate will need to provide their certification to the City of Boston according to their own requirements.

Effective February 1, 2015, The Boston Certified Cleaning Specialist ™ (BCCS™) has been revised to reflect NFPA 96 2011 and Boston-specific work requirements.

BCSI

The City of Boston Fire Department also requires any contractor engaged in the inspection of any commercial kitchen exhaust system be successfully certified as a Boston Certified System Inspector (BCSI).The successful candidate will need to provide their certification to the City of Boston according to their own requirements

All BCCS and BCSI certified staff are required to renew their certifications every three (3) years by applying and re-taking the certification exam with a passing score.

Certification Fees

BCCS: $315 per applicant
BCSI: $215 per applicant

All fees are payable to IKECA in US Dollars. Applicants who do not pass will need to reapply.

A single re-take examination will be available at $170 per applicant. If an applicant fails the retake exam, he/she must wait a period of three (3) months and reapply for the exam at the full exam fee.

Exam Length

BCCS | 75 multiple choice questions | 3 hour time limit

BCSI | 75 multiple choice questions | 2 hour time limit

Both certification examinations are “closed book.”

Exam Scoring |Pass-Fail Score

The pass-fail score for the IKECA exam or quiz is as follows:

BCCS passing score = 70%
BCSI passing score = 75%

Candidate scores are based on the number of correct responses. Each question receives credit if scored correctly, and no credit if incorrect or omitted. Therefore, you should answer each question, even if you must guess. If a candidate marks more than one response for a question, that question will be scored as incorrect.

Score Report

Within approximately ten (10) business days of taking test, you will receive a “score report” by mail. The report will indicate whether you passed or failed the exam. If you passed the exam, your score report will be accompanied by a certificate from IKECA, as well as a durable ID card, noting your certification number.

Certification Renewals

For those whose Certification is expiring prior to January 1, 2017.
If your certification has already expired, or is set to expire prior to January 1, 2017 you will be required to retake the full exam to reinstate your certification.

Upon passing the exam, the candidates will be issued an updated Certificate and ID card.

If a candidate fails to respond within thirty (30) days of the initial notification, a second written notice will be sent.

Candidates who do not successfully renew their certification by the expiration date will be notified in writing that their certification has expired and, to renew it, they will be required to retake the certification exam and pay all associated fees.

IKECA will report non-renewals to the City of Boston Fire Department on a monthly basis.

For those whose Certification is expiring on or after January 1, 2017.
If your certification expires after January 1, 2017, you are eligible to renew by successfully completing the corresponding renewal quiz.

Upon passing the quiz, the candidates will be issued an updated Certificate and ID card.

If a candidate fails to respond within thirty (30) days of the initial notification, a second written notice will be sent.

Candidates who do not successfully renew their certification by the expiration date will be notified in writing that their certification has expired and, to renew it, they will be required to retake the certification exam and pay all associated fees.

Please note all certifications which expire and which are not successfully renewed within 90 days are reported to the Boston Fire Department and may result in loss of license with the City of Boston. IKECA will report non-renewals to the City of Boston Fire Department on a monthly basis.

Renewal Quiz Fees
For those whose Certification is expiring on or after January 1, 2017.

BCCS: $170 per applicant
BCSI: $170 per applicant

All fees are payable to IKECA in US Dollars. Applicants who do not pass are entitled to one reduced cost quiz retake.

A single re-take quiz will be available at $95 per applicant. If an applicant fails the retake quiz, he/she must wait a period of three (3) months and reapply for the quiz at the full $170 fee.

Quiz Length
BCCS | 50 multiple choice questions | 120 minute time limit
BCSI | 50 multiple choice questions | 120 minute time limit

Quiz Scoring (Pass-Fail Score)
The pass-fail score for the IKECA exam is as follows:

BCCS passing score = 70%
BCSI passing score = 70%

Candidate scores are based on the number of correct responses. Each question receives credit if scored correctly, and no credit if incorrect or omitted. Therefore, you should answer each question, even if you must guess. If a candidate marks more than one response for a question, that question will be scored as incorrect.

Benefits

For Employees
IKECA certifications are objective and measurable ways of determining a general competency and knowledge in the latest industry standards and codes. Certification can benefit you in many ways, including:

  • Increasing compensation
  • Enhancing career mobility
  • The right to use the BCCS™ or BCSI™ label after your name and title
  • Elevating industry professionals to a higher standard
  • Increased recognition to employers, customers, and industry peers.

For Employers

  • Abiding by City of Boston licensing requirements
  • Recruiting new employees
  • Retaining current employees
  • Attracting more customers.

Calendar of Events

Monthly exam and quiz sessions are held are the following location:
Boston Fire Fighters Local 718
Florian Hall
55 Hallet St.
Boston, MA 02124
617-288-2100

*Each exam session is limited to a maximum capacity of 8 registrations and are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve. When IKECA receives your completed exam application, the next available spot will be reserved for you. If your first choice is unavailable, you will automatically be registered for your second choice.

A private proctor may also be used. In order to set up a privately proctored IKECA exam, you must find a qualified proctor to administer the exam. You will need to contact the proctor to arrange an appointment to take the exam that is convenient for both of you. The exam must be taken at a Public Library, Testing Center, or College/University. Any other facility that the exam applicant wants to take the exam must be approved by IKECA.

If using a private proctor, please fill out this form and send with your exam application.
Incomplete applications will be returned.

To apply for an exam or quiz, complete the application found below.

  • Tuesday December 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday January 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday February 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday March 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday April 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday May 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday June 18, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday August 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday September 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday October 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday November 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday December 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm