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More Than 130 Funeral Professionals Have Earned New NFDA Certified Crematory Operator Designation

For Immediate Release: December 11, 2013

Brookfield, Wis. – In September, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) launched its Certified Crematory Operator (CCO) Program. Developed by funeral directors, for funeral directors, NFDA's CCO Program was created to protect funeral homes and the families they serve. In less than three months, the CCO designation has been conferred on 131 funeral professionals who attended one of the first four certification programs: John A. Gupton College in Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Texas (a preconvention seminar at the 2013 NFDA International Convention & Expo); Albany, N.Y. (a special seminar for New York funeral professionals); and Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in Pittsburgh, Penn.

As the trusted leader in funeral service, NFDA set the bar high with a program that not only emphasizes professional excellence, but reinforces the important role ethics plays in serving families that choose cremation.

"If your firm offers cremation to your families, you and your staff need to participate in this program," said Mike Nicodemus, CFSP, NFDA vice president of cremation services and CCO Program co-presenter. "Whether you currently own and operate a crematory or use a third-party crematory, this training is critical. When a family sees the CCO designation after your name, they will know that they are being served at the highest level of professional excellence and integrity."

"The NFDA CCO Program was the third [cremation certification program] I have attended. The information that I gained was the most comprehensive and focused on the role of the professional funeral director as a crematory operator and as the representative of the family at a third-party crematory," said program attendee Paula Staab Polk, CCO, of Staab Polk Memorial Home and Cremation Services of Central Illinois in Chatham, Ill. "This program is one of the most proactive and well-designed programs NFDA offers its members."

Developed specifically for funeral homes that offer cremation services, the NFDA CCO Program covers ethics, crematory operations, safety, liability issues, cremation arranging and much more. The program meets or exceeds the criteria in all states requiring certification and has been approved for CE by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.

"We cover everything that a funeral director needs to know in order to safely and ethically provide cremation services to families," said Mike Watkins, CFSP, NFDA senior vice president of operations and CCO Program co-presenter. "We help attendees understand best practices for safe, proper, and ethical crematory operations. Our program covers every topic that is required by law in states that require certification for crematory operators."

Watkins continued, "Even if you don't own your own crematory, participants will walk away with a broad working knowledge of proper crematory operational procedures, as well as required and prudent administrative duties, so that they know what to look for when dealing with their third-party provider."

"Cremation litigation is on the rise. The CCO Program will help funeral professionals understand how to protect their firm by implementing cremation due diligence practices, such as authorization forms, chain-of-custody procedures and more," added Nicodemus.

NFDA already has several CCO seminars scheduled for 2014. A seminar taking place January 28, 2014, in Richmond, Va., is open for registration. This seminar will be hosted by the Virginia Funeral Directors Association.

Other scheduled seminars include:

  • March 26, 2014, in Denver, Colo. (host: Colorado Funeral Directors Association)
  • May 12, 2014, in Wilmington, N.C. (host: North Carolina Funeral Directors Association)
  • July 2, 2014, in Virginia Beach, Va. (host: Virginia Funeral Directors Association)

Registration for these programs will open in the months to come. Additional programs will be scheduled throughout 2014.

Information about upcoming CCO Programs can be found on the NFDA website, Any organization that wishes to host a CCO Program should contact NFDA at 800-228-6332 for more information


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