Fire alarm system inspection must be done annually by certified fire system technicians in all establishments. This is necessary for their continued operation. First the company has to file an application and provide a complete description of the parts that will be assessed by the fire service agency. The method of evaluation, installation, as well as service and maintenance will be based on the conditions stated in the National Fire Alarm Code or NFPA 72, all of which need substantial paperwork for the initial and consecutive yearly reports determining whether their company is eligible for a certificate of compliance.
It is important that a house/company-owner be aware of a technician’s certification rank before hiring one. There are four levels of certification all aspiring engineering technicians have to satisfy before acquiring the legal right to conduct fire systems installation, testing, planning, troubleshooting and equipment sales and maintenance services. You, as one of them will have to comply. Otherwise, agencies will have no use for you and will not endorse you service. The four stages dictate your rank because workload for each part further advances as you go along. Besides the skills you will be learning on the job, this occupation calls for other technical abilities as pre-requisite like fundamental knowledge in electronics, basic fire detection and suppression techniques, a critical understanding of the dynamics of physical science and of course the innate conscientiousness to endorse fire security. For everything else, you will owe to extensive experience and expertise by trial and error.
- You start at Level I which is a highly-supervised training period in the technical skills where as a trainee you are to learn and master general knowledge, basic skills and standard operating procedures from your superiors.
- After at least two years on the job, you advance to Level II where you will have acquired sufficient work experience to deal with more difficult tasks and display a more competent advantage over the younger bunch. You will still be under strict supervision but only to secure that routine is observed.
- Once you enter Level III, you will be executing special tasks, going on to the core work elements. Still doing the standard work in fire suppression, prevention and anti-fire installation duties but with a more apparent professional edge, Level III technicians are now allowed to perform operations on their own, answering only to the Level IV personnel if they are in need of assistance or when relaying instructions. Tasks include providing fire alarm system parts, service and maintenance of fire sprinkles, general switch box, configurations, planning, etc;
- By the time you reach Level IV, you are expected to be able to independently assess situations through impressive decision-making skills and analysis proficiency. It usually takes about ten years to achieve this position for the work elements now include supervising, having a say on setting standards and organizing and improving viable training grounds for your students.
When advancing to each level, you are to take a written examination to assess your competence on the job. For levels III and IV, an additional requirement is in order, that is, a recommendation. When applying for certification, fill out a work history form stating ALL work involved in your previous job. This information is important in determining your level of technical aptitude and thus, your appropriate stage in the bracket. It helps to have a degree on a two to four-year relevant course as it can be counted as a year and six months worth of work experience. This tradition was established by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).