The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recently unveiled a new variation of its Cremation Certification Program.
Mike Nicodemus, NFDA Vice President of cremation services, said the refresher course is tailored around the new state law adopted by Alabama last year that requires seven hours of certification for licensure and a refresher course every four years.
“The state of Alabama updated its cremation law last year since the rate of cremation in the state has been steadily rising,” said Charles Perine, Executive Director of the Alabama State Board of Funeral Service. “Our law before last year was very minimal. It was actually put on the books as a knee-jerk reaction to the Noble, Georgia, crematory scandal in 2002 and had not been amended.”
“So we decided to update it and set a standard for the industry as cremation rises,” Perine said. “Anybody wanting to get into the business of cremation must be held to the same standard. We require a minimum seven-hour certification course and then a refresher course every four years in order to keep the certification and license.”
The reasoning behind the refresher course is simple: Things change.
“Industry standards change due to different lawsuits and things,” Perine said. “Mike Nicodemus has been a very resourceful person and stays current on things in his certification course. But things still change. We thought it best that once you take the course, you be recertified every four years.”
NFDA has been holding its cremation certification program once a year in Alabama at Jefferson State Community College.
Said Perine: “What we did was reach out to Jefferson State and ask if it was possible for them to offer, through the certification course, a refresher course of about half the time and half the cost. Since the law is going to require such a program to maintain licensure,” Perine noted that Venus Smith, Jefferson State College Mortuary Science Program director, was on board with the idea.
“She spoke with Nicodemus and NFDA about putting such a program together,” Perine added. “Within 24 hours, the framework of the program was put together.”
Perine heard from a number of funeral directors who took the course several years ago and came for the refresher course last week. One told Perine that following the course, his firm will be re-evaluating some of the procedures they have in place to make sure that the firm is not only protecting itself but also offering the best service to families.
Speaking about Nicodemus, Perine said, “It is important for us to know this information is coming from an expert witness in the industry, someone who has seen it all many times over, to make sure funeral homes and crematories are abiding by that law and have the proper procedures in place.”
“The Alabama State Board of Funeral Service raised the bar when it required all operators to not only be certified but to take a refresher course every four years,” Nicodemus said. “Cremating a family’s loved one should be taken very seriously, and I know the Alabama board agrees. I applaud them for making this training mandatory.”
Nicodemus said he was honored to represent NFDA in presenting the very first refresher course held at Jefferson State. “I want to recognize the NFDA staff, Venus Smith and State Board Chairman Charles Perine, who stayed the entire day and were invaluable resources for making this training class a memorable day.”
According to Perine, other states have their eye on Alabama and its law requiring a refresher course for recertification. “They have spoken directly to us about our law and what we require in a refresher program. I think you will be seeing other states coming on board with it.”