The Fire and Safety Specialist (FF) was a Coast Guard Reserve rating only in existence between 1982 and 1993, when it was merged with the Port Securityman (PS) rating, which was re-designated Port Security Specialist in 1999. A little over ten years after that, the PS rating was in turn disestablished and most of its members integrated into the newly created Maritime Enforcement Specialist (ME) rating in 2010.

There are, however, questions regarding the actual name and abbreviation of the rating.

In a history of ratings hosted on the official Coast Guard Web site titled “Enlisted Ratings, Rating Specialty Marks, & Distinguishing Marks 1915 ~ 2011,” the rating is called Fire and Safety Specialist. But the Department of Defense Reserve Force Policy Board’s Annual Report for Fiscal Year 1992, published in January 1993, twice refers to the rating as “Fire and Safety Technician.”

As far as the “FF” abbreviation goes, the only citation is a Wikipedia entry that cites the aforementioned history of ratings and rating specialty marks—and that source never mentions “FF” as an abbreviation for any rating. But a document titled “List of Commonly Used U.S. Coast Guard Acronyms,” dated 2005 and published at one time on the Web site for the USCG Auxiliary’s Ninth Coast Guard District, lists “FS” as the abbreviation for “Fire and Safety Technician.” It also correctly lists it as the abbreviation for the Food Services Specialist rating, which was not established until several years after the Fire and Safety Technician rating had been merged with Port Securityman.

Prior to the establishment of the FF (or FS) rating, fire-related duties (inspections, prevention, detection, control, and of course extinguishment were performed by Firefighters (FIs). Firefighter was an emergency rating that was closely linked to Port Securityman, also an emergency rating and the only other specialty included in Group VII ratings for Port Security. Indeed, the two ratings were inextricably linked, because the Firefighter rating—only available at senior petty officer levels of E6 to E9—could only be entered by advancing to E4 and E5 in the Port Securityman rating. Port Securityman had been created by consolidating the Dangerous Cargoman ratings (E4 to E9) and the junior petty officer rates (E4 and E5) of the Firefighter rating.

What makes the establishment of the Fire and Safety Specialist (or Technician) rating interesting is that the duties of the Firefighter and Port Securityman ratings greatly overlapped. In the 1967 edition of the Coast Guard’s Enlisted Ratings Qualification Manual (CG-311), the scope of the PS rating states that Port Securitymen are “well versed in the field of fire inspection, prevention, detection, control, and extinguishment”—the same attribute applied to FI Coast Guardsmen, except they are, of course, senior petty officers. The FI rating, however, also included firefighting instruction duties and the organization and training of firefighting units.

Fire and Safety Specialists were primarily assigned to ports and other waterfront installations and facilities, but also were deployed on merchant and naval vessels, as well as on other small craft.

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