A National Certified Floodplain Surveyor Program?

Every surveyor is capable of completing Section C on the Elevation Certificate, the Elevation section on the MT-EZ form and Form 2, the Elevation Form on the MT-1 application. In fact, in most jurisdictions, only a surveyor can legally fill out these forms. Can a surveyor complete the remainder of these forms? For the most part, in my experience, surveyors do it but few do it correctly.

Is there a need for a Certified Floodplain Surveyor program? You’re durn right there is a need. Each community and each state has someone that is responsible for administering and enforcing the regulations contained within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The previously mentioned paperwork comprises a large portion of the means by which the program is administered and enforced. Any information interpreted and reported incorrectly can be costly to the public and to communities. The CFS program prepares the surveyor to correctly convey this information, ensuring that the NFIP, insurance agents, lenders and building inspectors have a quality product on which to rely.

The state of North Carolina, with the assistance of FEMA developed a CFS program in the early 1990’s. Two years ago, North Carolina offered to bring the program to the state of Tennessee. Currently, these are the only two states that offer this certification. FEMA does not formally recognize the Tennessee program at this time. The NC and TN Certification process requires a two and half day, live, physically present in a classroom course. The second half of the third day is spent on review and question/answers. A fourth day is required for testing. The test is 125 questions in two parts. If a person fails one part, they fail the entire test. Normally, there is only a 50% pass rate. Every other year, a refresher course is required to maintain one’s certification.

The question now is how to take this program to the national level. The National Society of Professional Surveyors is the natural choice. NSPS has made some attempts over the years at development and implementation of a national Certification program. Our approach now is to develop a system of administration, training and testing. At a later date, once a program is in place, we will approach FEMA for their recognition. These are questions that are being resolved through committee meetings and conference calls.

One of the keys to a successful program will be cooperation and assistance from each state’s NFIP coordinator. Each state society or association should make it a point to invite their respective state coordinator to their annual meeting. Work in concert with the coordinator and promote the idea of certifying the surveyor. It can only be a win/win situation for the coordinator and the surveyor.

What are the advantages to becoming certified? North Carolina CFS’s have their MT-1 and MT-EZ applications expedited. The folks from Tennessee do not receive this courtesy. However, certification still has its advantages. To do the forms correctly is a duty we owe the public. When the entire program and the laws behind the program are understood, the professional surveyor can act as a credible consultant. I’m in constant contact with engineers and architects, advising them on different aspects of floodplain management. Also, it is an excellent source of income.

When can we expect NSPS to have a program up and running? We are working to resolve the many issues required to implement a program on a national level. We are fortunate to have North Carolina’s well-tested system to use as a guide. Hopefully in the near future any surveyor in this country can sit for the exam and earn the right to be called a Certified Floodplain Surveyor.

About the Author

C. Barton Crattie, LS, CFS, CFM

Bart Crattie practices land surveying in Georgia and Tennessee. He has been a CFM since 2008 and a CFS since 2017 and teaches the Certified Floodplain Surveyor’s course in Tennessee. Bart is the secretary of the Surveyors Historical Society and is the NSPS Director for the state of Tennessee.