Field Certification for Method 9 (Smoke School)

Excerpt from Online Visible Emissions Course

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Requirements to Pass Field Certification

Number of Observations Per Test Runs 50: 25 white smoke, 25 black smoke
Contiguous Observations The student must pass 50 contiguous observations of white and black smoke.
Increments of Opacity Five percent (5%). Opacity is specified at 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, etc.
Accuracy Required Per Observation ALL observation must be estimated within fifteen percent (15%) of the opacity. If one observation is outside of the 15%, the student does not pass that run.
Cumulative Score CAA smoke school students much achieve a score of 37 deviations or below.

Exclusive Digital Field Certification Process

Compliance Assurance Associates, Inc. (CAA) offers a paperless, no-contact smoke school that is completely digital. For specific information on our field certification process, visit the Digital Smoke School Certification page.

What to Expect at Smoke School


Arrive on time. You will check in on your phone. Work with the field manager if you have any issues logging in.


The field manager will explain the process, answer questions, and assist with issues.


The field team introduces students to plumes and opacity levels. Using the smoke generator, the instructor produces plumes at 25%, 50% and 75% opacity as reference points.

Practice Runs

Practice runs are performed to familiarize students with the digital app and how to perform observations. Additionally, specialized instruction is given to ensure familiarity with black smoke and white smoke. Up to four practice runs will be performed to ensure students are comfortable with the reading process.

Test Runs

Students are tested on 50 contiguous observations - 25 with white smoke, 25 with black.

During test runs, students are expected to adhere to Method 9 rules regarding sun angle and background. Test runs differ from actual visible emissions observations in that they are performed on a smoke trailer vs. a facility with an operator providing cues to read vs. having a timer mechanism during actual observations.


When all students have recorded their observations, the field manager will commence the grading process. Students will be notified on their smart devices of their scores.

Those who have passed will receive a message “completed but not yet certified.” At that point, the student presses the "Open Signature Pad "button and follows the instructions on the screen to sign and take a selfie and press the save button. At this point, a digital field certificate is automatically created and available on the CAA website.

For students that don't pass the run, the digital app will indicate where observation errors occurred. Those students must repeat the test run(s).

Repeated Test Runs

Test runs will be repeated until all students pass or choose not to be certified or the time of day prohibits further test runs.