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Recruiting and Training Technicians for a Growing Sprinkler Market. Kenneth E. Isman, P.E. Vice President of Engineering National Fire Sprinkler Association Presented at the IFSA 7 th International Fire Sprinkler Conference Copenhagen, Denmark June 25, 2008.

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recruiting and training technicians for a growing sprinkler market

Recruiting and Training Technicians for a Growing Sprinkler Market

Kenneth E. Isman, P.E.

Vice President of Engineering

National Fire Sprinkler Association

Presented at the IFSA 7th International

Fire Sprinkler Conference

Copenhagen, Denmark

June 25, 2008

recruiting and training technicians
Recruiting and Training Technicians
  • Terminology
  • History
  • Present
  • Future
terminology
Terminology

Technician: The person who determines the layout and detail associated with the location of sprinklers and related equipment and performs the hydraulic calculations to verify that the pipe sizes will be sufficient and will work with the available water supply.

In other words, they prepare the working plans.

Note that we do not use the term “design”.

terminology1
Terminology
  • In most states in the US, the term “design” is reserved for Professional Engineers under Engineering Licensing Laws
  • “Design” is the use of judgment to assign hazard classifications to occupancies and to determine what the available water supply to a property might be.
terminology2
Terminology
  • Unfortunately, most sprinkler contractors use the term “designer” for their technicians
  • We prefer:
    • Fire Sprinkler Technician
    • Fire Protection Specialist
history of sprinkler technicians
History of Sprinkler Technicians
  • Sprinkler industry begins in late 19th Century
  • Controlled by manufacturers
    • Do the installation; or
    • License installers
  • Insurance companies approve plans before installation
history of sprinkler technicians1
History of Sprinkler Technicians
  • Limited number of choices in the early days
    • Not many different kinds of sprinklers
    • Not many different kinds of pipe
    • Installation standard relatively small
history of sprinkler technicians2
History of Sprinkler Technicians
  • 1975 – Insurance Services Office stops reviewing plans for approval
  • 1980 – National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technology (NICET) begins to certify Fire Protection Technicians
    • Fire Sprinkler Layout and Detail
    • Fire Alarm System Layout and Detail
    • Fire Suppression Systems
    • Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems
growth of products 1980 2005
Growth of Products: 1980 - 2005
  • Hundreds of new types of sprinklers now on the market
  • Many different types of pipe materials to chose from
  • Three different sprinkler standards
    • (NFPA 13, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D)
  • NFPA 13 is over 350 pages long
where are we now
Where are we now?
  • Certified NICET Fire Sprinkler Layout Technicians: 5002
  • Estimated total number of technicians: 10,000
where do we find technicians now
Where do we find technicians now?
  • Fire Protection Schools
    • Oklahoma State, Delaware Tech, Seneca Col.
    • Still need some training when they get out
  • General technical schools
    • All over country
    • Need a great deal of training when they get out
  • High School (need even more training)
  • Former fitters (need least amount of training, but still need some)
where can technicians get training now
Where can Techniciansget training now?
  • NFSA
    • Two-week technician training seminar
    • Two-year Certificate Program
      • Phase 1 – Two-week class
      • Phase 2 – Internet study modules
      • Phase 3 – On the job training with mentor
      • Phase 4 – Internet study modules
      • Phase 5 – On the job training with mentor
      • Phase 6 – Three-day classroom and final exam
    • Various classes ranging from 90 min. to 3-days
where can technicians get training now1
Where can Techniciansget training now?
  • NFSA
    • On-line courses
    • Self-study textbook
      • 700 pages
      • Basic material on layout and calculations
    • Other textbooks in planning stages
      • Beyond the Basics
      • Advanced
need for future technicians
Need for Future Technicians
  • If the information from the 2006 survey is a representative sample, 2500 Technicians will reach retirement age in the next 10 years
  • At the same time, the sprinkler industry is expected to grow to 70 million sprinklers in the U.S. by 2018
need for future technicians1
Need for Future Technicians

To replace retiring Technicians: 2500

To handle additional growth: 5000

Total new technicians in 10 years: 7500

Not sure that we can meet this demand with traditional methods of recruitment and training

potential idea for training technicians
Potential Idea for Training Technicians
  • Set up programs with community colleges
    • 4 semester program
    • English, math, CAD, plus fire protection classes
    • Partnership with local sprinkler contractors for on-the-job training
    • Job placement after graduation
potential problems with community college solution
Potential Problems with Community College Solution
  • 7500 technicians in 10 years
  • 15 technicians per year per state
  • Most people that attend community college will only travel 50 or 60 miles to look for a job after graduation
  • No single program will be able to sustain itself
recruiting technicians
Recruiting Technicians
  • Need to make people aware of the fire sprinkler industry as a career
    • High school students
    • College students taking general CAD and construction/architecture/engineering programs
    • Guidance counselors
    • Parents
recruiting technicians1
Recruiting Technicians
  • Viral Video
    • Sprinklers putting out fire
    • Quick basic information on industry
    • Direct people to a website
  • Website
    • Descriptions of jobs in industry
    • More video
    • Direct people to contractors in their area
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