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Jan 10, 2022

On episode 44 of Fire Code Tech we are speaking about the engineering team with Paul Inferrera. On our second episode with Paul we get into the history of NICET as a certification. Tune into this episode so you can hear tips for taking the fire alarm NICET exams.


Below is registration announcements and link to the program:

Fire Alarm Systems Training classes at Cape Fear Community College will start August 31, 2020 and registration is now open. Our courses are self-paced and offered online to anyone with an Internet connection.

The registration fee for the four-month course is $185 (USD) and awards 14.4 CEU’s. NICET awards 1 CPD point for 0.1 CEU (10 points per CEU).
Those who are using the course to obtain NICET Continuing Personal Development (CPD) points will max out the category “Additional Education” and earn 45 points.

Use the following link to sign up for the class and select "Alarms 101" or "Alarms 102":

Alarms 101
This course is designed for those individuals who are in the fire alarm industry and will focus on fundamentals. Students will learn basic electrical theory and understand resistance, voltage and current.

Individuals currently in the fire alarm industry would benefit from the concepts and theories, which will be built upon in the Alarms 102 course.
Students will also acquire a basic understanding of the physics involved in the chemical reaction and the by-products of fire. Students will learn basic electrical workmanship and installation methods of fire alarm equipment and devices.
The student will gain an understanding of the requirements of codes and standards that govern fire alarm systems and installations. (14.4 CEU/45 CPD awarded)

Students will become familiar with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and NFPA 70, the National Electric Code (NEC). These references are consistent with NICET’s allowable references for Level I and II Fire Alarm Systems exam(s).

Alarms 102
This course is designed for individuals who are fire alarm technicians or have intermediate experience in the fire alarm industry and will focus on application and design.

The subject matter will build upon concepts addressing the behavior and generation of smoke, the combustion process and the requirements of codes and standards that govern fire alarm systems and installations. (14.4 CEU/45 CPD awarded)
Students will become familiar with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, NFPA 70, the National Electric Code (NEC), NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code, and the International Building (IBC).

These references are consistent with NICET’s allowable references for Level III and IV Fire Alarm Systems exam(s).
Please contact me for more information or visit our web page for complete course information:



Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.

Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.

Hello, all welcome to episode 44 of fire code tech. On this episode, we have Paul impre. Paul has had over three decades of experience in the fire alarm industry and has plenty of great insight on the subject. We speak about the history of N set exams and what it means to be an engineer or an engineering technician, and how these two terms collaborate.

We also talk about Paul's work at the Cape fair community college, where he teaches two classes on fire alarm in Bo over a thousand questions in help for preparation of the N. We finished the episode with a couple questions on fire alarm and a brief overview of what Paul is seeing as trends in the industry.

If you want to hear more about Paul's career, go check out episode 10 of fire code tech, which was Paul's first appearance. In that episode, we talk about the origin of Paul's working life, some high level topics on basic fire, alarm fundamentals, and much more about the Cape for your community college. Do me a big favor and hit that subscribe button and follow us on social media.

Also, if you wanna rate and review fire code tech on apple podcast, that would be a huge help to the pod. Well, Paul, thanks so much for coming back on the podcast. Welcome back to fire code tech. Yes, sir. Guess I'm glad to be back, man. It's been, uh, I guess it's been, I don't think it's been, uh, yeah, it's been a full year.

It's been more than a year. I think I talked to you just after the pandemic started. I can't believe it's been that long. I guess we talked a couple times since then, but yeah. How have things been since, uh, the last time I talked to you? Well, as always pretty busy, I, you know, do a little teaching online and I also have a, um, do fire alarm design.

Um, so we've really been slamming with, with the design work and, uh, of course the work comes the, uh, the training, so they kind of go hand in hand. Very good. Very good. Well, I wanted to start off since we have, in case people wanna go back and listen the episode where Paul talks a lot about his background and some really good topics on fire alarm and the Cape fear community college.

We're gonna touch on some of those topics again, but if people want to go back and listen, that's episode 10, so you can. A bit more about Paul's background, but for the purpose of this conversation, uh, we kind of talked a little bit, um, off air about covering a little bit of the history of technical institutions and, uh, in specific NSAID, since you have.

Ambassadorship with N set. Yeah. Paul, would you, would you wanna break into this conversation with telling the listeners a little bit about the history of technical institutions in specific, uh, N set? Oh, sure. Um, actually. Technical Institute think go back pretty far just after, I guess, world war, you know, one in 1918, um, industrial and educator representatives met in, uh, 1923 to address the lack of technical education, uh, during this meeting the term.

Technical Institute was adopted. And that was to designate two year schools that offered, uh, technical education. Um, technician was another term that was adopted at this meeting. And that was to describe the graduate of the technical Institute. Um, these institutions evolved into today's community college system, and some are still dedicated to technical instruction, kinda like, you know, ITT and all those technical institutes that you see commercials for on TV.

Um, later our study was, uh, done of technical institutes, uh, now was conducted between 19 28, 19 30. And the results were published in 1931. And that study, uh, listed the areas of technical education that were unique to technicians. And that study was applicable for the next 25 years later at the end of world war II.

And, uh, and towards the beginning of the cold war that started in the 60. Wow. That's very interesting. I would've, uh, I don't know what I would've guessed, uh, about when these institutes started, but, uh, it's fascinating, um, to hear that beginning of that journey, you know, um, about the world wars have an impact, you know, uh, what kind of.

Other impacts, do you think, uh, like world war I and world war II played on the, the, the labor and just kind of the impact on, um, engineers and engineering technicians. I mean, that sounds like a really fascinating topic. Uh, yes. Um, actually I guess prior to world war I, uh, United States was primarily a, an ag aggregation economy where a lot of farmers and not too much industry, all the industry was basically in England and Europe.

Uh, of course, world war is kind. Slowed them down a bit, and that really helped out the United States to become, or to begin to become an industrial power. Um, of course, all wars in history have contributed to the advances in medicine and machinery. And this byproduct was accelerated in world war II. Uh, the world went from horses and single shot rifles, uh, to mechanical vehicles, aviation and advances and electronics that develop radar and early versions of the computer.

Um, of course this equipment need to be maintained by individuals with technical training and the United States deemed the lack of training as a national emergency, uh, and create the war effort. Um, these advances in technology were, uh, finance way into automobiles and kitchen appliances. And towards the end of world war II, the government were, were competing with the private sector for facilities, instructors to provide training.

So, um, basically it was world war II and all the technical advances and all the needs to, to produce and maintain that equipment basically was the, the birth of the technician. Wow. That's awesome to hear about. Yeah. I, uh, I started my career off, uh, as a contractor in, in getting a nice head certification.

So it's, uh, really fascinating to hear about the, the history, you know, um, I mean, I feel like we've talked a little bit before about some of the advantages of, you know, technical certifications, but yeah, I'd love to hear some more from you about, you know, kind of the different things you can expect, you know, uh, beneficial to your career after you get, um, one of these technical certifications, one thing the most.

Common feedback. And course in the day I was doing the expo circuits and the ni ambassador thing. And you got a chance to meet the public and, and meet aspiring technicians. And like said the most common feedback was when, you know, I, I know what I'm doing. Why do I need to become certified? Um, But, you know, the advantage of certification is to establish and demonstrate proficiency.

So, uh, like your doctor, they may have went to med school, but you wanna see a license on the wall from a state exam, they passed to practice. So it generally gives. I guess the public, a little sense of security that, you know, somebody's proficient in, in what they're doing. Um, and also having a nice certificate demonstrates you're proficient in your field and will enable a higher wage.

Um, companies with nicer certified technicians can compete for higher value projects. Uh, for example, all government projects will list nice at certification in their specification. Um, and the public assures that life safety systems will work as design and installed and probably maintain. So. I guess any certification tells two things.

One, it tells the qualifications of the person holding that certifi certificate and it tells the, uh, public or the person that's getting those services that they're done by a qualified individual. Yeah. And I said, certifications are similar to a lot of certifications that, uh, that I don't believe they have an education requirement, but they do have an experience requirement and a testing requirement.

Is that correct? No, absolutely. Um, I. So it is nice that it is a two part process that evaluates experience and technical knowledge, uh, persons who, which becomes certified will participate in a computer based exam to evaluate their knowledge upon passing the exam. The candidates experience will be evaluated by N set.

Uh, I, that offers four levels of certification. With incremental experience requirements. Uh, level one is six months. Level two is two years level three, five years and level four is 10 years. Um, upon satisfying the experience requirements, uh, nice that we'll deem that candidate to be certified and issues a certificate.

So, um, you can pass the exam, uh, but of course you have to have the knowledge to back up, uh, experience to back up that knowledge as well. Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, it can be challenging for people. I know that when I was coming out of school and I had, uh, people who were early in entry level positions and. They didn't have, um, kind of formal schooling in, in fire alarm or fire suppression.

And so it was really kind of daunting for them to, to pass the NSET. So, yeah. So I was gonna suggest that. People who maybe don't have formal schooling and fire and life safety. Um, maybe now would be a good chance to talk a little bit about, we talked about it in our first episode, but, um, speak a little bit about your coursework at.

To Cape your community college and how that could be leveraged if you don't maybe have the same, um, formal education around fire alarm, um, in order to pursue a I set, uh, certification. Yeah. And of course, actually the school of life is gonna gonna teach you a lot and that's. You know why the experience experience is part of that certification.

Um, but there's people, I guess, like me that are good test takers and they can read a book and pass a test and not even know what they're testing on. So that's really why. The experience comes into play. But again, those people that are well experienced, they may not be proficient on the codes and, and things in the book.

And, you know, sometimes codes read like the dictionaries really dry and really boring. And, um, so our course will, will kind of expand on that and give you kind of the layman's I guess, presentation, um, of that material. And, um, Each we have two courses, the, the 1 0 1, the 1 0 2 and the, the 1 0 1 is geared towards a nice at level one or two technician.

And the alarms 1 0 2 is more design based, uh, designed for that level two that wants to go to level three or level three or four, uh, and focus on design. And, but the big, I guess, value of the course is that we have over a thousand questions in both courses that come almost directly from. The, uh, N F P a codes and standards.

So the feedback that we get often that these people will go through this course. And when they come out on the other end, they just realize that they're much more proficient in, in these codes and standards because they've taken, you know, like I said, almost a thousand test questions, and eventually it's gonna stick.

So, um, it's this really good course. And it's been, been in development for almost 10 years now, so we've definitely put out a bunch of technicians. Wow. That's awesome. You know, the, the number one piece of advice I give people when they go to take, uh, certification exams is do as many practice problems as you can, because the test is, you know, uh, questions or practice problems.

And the more comfortable you are with answering questions based on the criteria that you need to use for the test and the better you're gonna be at the exam. That's awesome that you guys have such a huge, uh, basis of questions for people to get keyed into. Yeah. I said it's a, it's one of my pride and joys cuz the, um, I said you don't really, I guess realize it, but um, of course you don't wanna memorize things.

You wanna know where to find things. And that's like I said, once, that that course will do is it'll get you into that code book. And um, if you don't know it on the test, you'll definitely know where to find it pretty quickly. Yeah, I think that's so important and something that comes in time with like, experience like you were speaking to before, but also the, the course could be helpful with is providing that base knowledge.

That's kind of hard to get, you know, NFPA can be a little bit intimidating at first, you know, understanding the composition, the layout and the, just some of the easy tips and tricks about how to navigate the, the codes and standards. So I think that's also a benefit there. Yeah. I think as far as, you know, the fire alarm technicians, the big, the big question is, you know, is it electrical code or is it fire alarm code?

So, um, that's part of the practice you'll get is you'll, you'll read that question and you should be able to determine right away which code you're gonna go to just from a few keywords on that question. Yeah, that's a great piece of advice. Yeah. I wanted to ask, um, you know, some stuff for me, a fire alarm isn't, uh, harder than fire suppression, but I wanted to ask in your experience, what do you see, um, students having the most trouble with maybe that are just kind of breaking into it?

Um, yeah. Or how you've seen them kind of overcome that, um, you know, just kind of struggling with difficult subject matter or how you kind of coach them through that. I believe the most challenging aspect is probably not even. And associate with their technical experiences, actually the taking the test or they taking the exam.

Um, of course any exams is intimidating and, um, the more practice you get and the more confidence you get, of course, the better you're gonna perform during that exam. Um, so the, the, our course, our, our courses online is computer based. So you're gonna be in that testing environment to where you're taking a test on the computer and have to.

Hopefully, you don't have to reference the code book, but, um, our time test or, or will put you in that same environment that you will be when you take that computer based test. So you shouldn't feel as anxious or, or nervous because you did almost a thousand questions already. So, um, people said the exam easy after the class, which that's part of the best, you know, the best, um, feedback we can get.

Is that the nice exams easy, cuz it certainly was not easy for me. . Yeah, that's awesome. I think you're right. I think that confidence piece is so huge. You know, how good do you feel about the coursework going in? Can be big, cuz sometimes you'll get a huge case of the nerves going into, uh, An exam. And you might realize that you wasted time or you, you know, weren't working the way that, you know, you should be.

So I think you're right that test taking acumen and just kind of getting settled in and, you know, getting calmed down is, is a big thing. But I wanted to kinda circle back to our discussion on, you know, certification. And, and I said, and just talk a little bit more about, I've heard you say this term before and, uh, but it's the, the engineering team I I'd really like to, to break into, into what that means.

I think that's an important term in our. Um, it, it certainly is, of course, you know, no one does any one thing by themselves. Um, it's usually a team effort and every, every person that team has their role, um, the team concept was actually defined again, back in, in the fifties, um, in the 1955, a paper was published that describe the members of the team.

Uh, it basical. Divided him into three, three team players. It was the, the scientist that conducts research that leads to new ideas, uh, an engineer that developed designs, procedures, and practical applications for those ideas that were developed by the scientists and the technician are tasked to build, operate and maintain that equipment that was, uh, designed and developed by the engineer.

Um, eventually N S P the national society professional engineer. Created a committee in 1958, uh, to establish recognition standards of engineering technicians. Um, this NSP committee became permanent and evolved into now what is called, uh, the national Institute for certification in engineering technologies or friend

So it. Wow that I like hearing about that that's so I hear people get this confused a lot, or, you know, maybe people who are not so well versed in, in the industry are just getting in the, in the industry might not understand, but what do you see as the difference between a technician and an engineer? Uh, well, in the early stages of establishment technical training, uh, some engineers fought, uh, the effort fears that they would lose their job to technicians.

Um, and I believe there was a, um, one of the gentlemen that did these studies and, and producing these papers actually went on a, uh, a little speaking tour to basically just, um, present his report, uh, that he, that he made. And, um, An engineer, you know, stood up and said, you know, we gotta stop this, this engineering technician thing before we all lose our jobs.

And the response was, if you're doing engineering technician work, you need to talk to your boss because you're not doing engineering work. So. It is a team effort. You know, we're not gonna put engineers out of business. Um, and several organizations struggled with the definition of a technician and their place in the process.

Um, it was generally accepted that engineering technicians were graduates of associate programs and technology. However, most cadets were not nationally recognized. Uh, the first definition of the engineering technician, uh, came in 1953. And describe them as what, who can carry out in a responsible manner, proven techniques, especially prescribed by professional engineers.

Um, the relationship was further refined in the creation of the engineering team concept, which we discussed earlier. So, um, there's engineers and there's technicians and, you know, they do their thing and we do ours and together we produce a product for the public. Yeah, I think that's a good point. And you know, I've heard you say before, you know, if you're doing a, a job and you're afraid that an, that an engineering technician is gonna take your job, then, uh, maybe you need to take a look at your job because you know, an engineer and an engineering technician or not doing the same kind of work.

So I thought that was interesting before I've heard you talk about that. Yeah, of course in our world. It's, it's, it's pretty basic where I like to make things, things basic in that the engineers they're gonna use the building codes, Andi classifications, to determine the extent and the type of protection that's needed for that, that structure.

And then once they do that, that, that, uh, plan will go to a technician. And I say, what I do is I connect the dots and make it work. So that's basically what I do is I'm not. Playing engineer and, and laying out this system, I'm just taking his, his layout and, uh, and making it work. So can't do one without the other.

Yeah. Yeah. I see that. Uh, I've had somebody speak to me recently. In, uh, fire suppression, there is a big disconnect between, you know, what the engineer provides and what is necessary for the technician to, um, construct the system. Um, but I wanted to ask you, uh, what are your thoughts about, um, what the fire protection engineer or what the electrical engineer provides?

Um, is it sufficient or do you see. Gaps that could be bridged for making this engineering team more sound well, um, to make it the most sound. I think that all parties would need to understand their role in the process. Um, Some engineers may get their feelings hurt and think that we're doing their job.

And some technicians may think that the engineers, you know, um, don't really know what they're doing, but I think together it, it is a, it is a team effort. Um, because you know, we technicians will use the code book and, and we'll apply the code in a prescriptive manner where the engineers will use their education.

And, um, that experience. To solve problems, cuz you know, as an engineers, do engineers solve problems and once they solve the problem, then the technicians will learn those procedures and those, uh, how to, how to do that, how to stall it and maintain the systems. Yeah, I think that's a good point. You gotta gotta work together as a team and not get hurt feelings or you know, about people stepping on toes.

And most of the time in the best teams that I've worked with, it's people working together or the contractor, you know, not trying to. You're just being on the same page, uh, as a team is, makes it the best solution for the, the building owner and the occupants. So that's a good point. So I wanted to just, uh, You know, we talked about the last time we got together some different topics, like, um, transmission and signaling for fire alarm systems.

But, um, yeah, I just wanted to just kick around some different fire alarm topic. You know, I've had the opportunity to onboard a couple people recently at the company that I work with. One of the things that, uh, I have to teach 'em early on is a little bit about notification device layout. Um, particularly it gets pretty difficult when it comes to, um, speaker layout or.

Or, uh, like mass notification or voice evacuation systems, but, um, yeah. Do you typically use like a software for fire alarm and mass notification system layout, or you do hand calculations for, um, the layout of those devices is just a curiosity. I had. Um, well, the last time I did hand calculations was on the nice a exam because they don't let you use your laptop.

But, um, , I would say, well, a hundred percent, percent of the time. I would use industry spreadsheets or programs that are designed, uh, to calculate the, the load and the draws. Um, of course they do come with disclaimer that you need to know what you're doing, and they're not gonna take liability if it doesn't work.

Um, but they do come from the manufacturers. So in my opinion, that's better than anything that I can produce. Um, and you know, you also get a nice, nice, pretty report with the manufacturer's logo on there. And it is something. You know, I guess it's gives the HJ a sense of, um, Confidence that you've actually done your due diligence to produce these calculations as far as the, the voice evac.

Um, and that, that goes back to the role of the engineer and the technician because the engineer would establish thess or the acoustically distinguishable spaces. And that's the spaces that you have to have intelligibility for the system. They really wouldn't go around with a, with a voice meter and tell us, you know, what levels to, to set these devices at.

Cause pretty much, a lot of times they'll just show a device and then I'll have to, you know, do my. My work and figure out how bright the, uh, the device has to be, or how many, you know, amps that the, uh, speaker needs to be provide, you know, adequate intelligibility in that space. Um, there is software, um, I think system sensor has the evac or E software, um, that was developed in Germany.

And it was actually started out as a, a software program to set up. Speakers and for concerts and large venues where you wanted to have a good quality sound that would distribute throughout the facility, uh, that later evolved into a piece of software that system sensor developed that allows you to actually lay out these speaker systems and, and things of that nature.

Um, the software is pretty pricey. Um, I used it once on a trial version, but that's really. In the engineer realm. Um, I, I would believe if it was a design build to where we were working hand in hand with engineers to lay that out. I, I think that software would be a good tool, but basically the, the engineer's gonna is gonna establish the spaces where they want eligibility and I'll take my, my codebook and, and my knowledge of the, the devices to, to set them according.

Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. It's just, uh, you know, with orange DRS, it just seems like it's a pretty straightforward equation. And then when you get into mass notification and voice evac, it just is more difficult. So I appreciate you talking a little bit about that. Yeah, I guess the most difficult thing, and actually the first step is decid.

What spaces that you want intelligent building, because you're not gonna do that throughout the entire. Um, so if you've got a mechanical space with lot of loud compressors or something, you're not gonna put a speaker in there cuz no, one's never gonna hear it anyways. So what you'd do in that, in that sense, you would put a horn STR in that space and that would get the occupants out to an area where they could hear voice instructures like the hallway.

So you, you, so say the guy was in there working on a compressor and he'd seen the, the STR going off, uh, he'd run out to the hallway. And then actually that's when he would hear their speakers in, in the voice evacuation. So you would use horn strobes in conjunction with speakers to, to move people around and get 'em to where they could hear voice instruction.

That's a good tip. Yeah. Some spaces you're never gonna be able to get that intelligibility that, uh, mention of that software. Uh, you know, in order to model the sound made me think of, uh, I've done work on several aircraft hangers and you can almost never get intelligibility in these, um, very large kind of cavernous spaces with, uh, hard perpendicular structures.

Um, so that's a, that's an interesting tip. I appreciate that. Yeah. And I, and I've found, um, some people, you know, they just wanna crank up the volume and blast it throughout the facility, but like you said, you're just gonna get sound bounced and all around, and you're really not gonna hear anything. Uh, for me it's general rule is that.

You wanna place speakers in half the distance, the traditional horn stroke. So if you got, you know, horn strokes on a hallway and you want to go voice, you would probably put a speaker at, at half intervals, uh, between the two horn strokes at a lower, at a lower volume. So you have a nice even intelligible, uh, voice messages going down that corridor and not have one, one or two devices that are cranked way up to where it just bounces all over the, all over the, the surface.

that's a good tip. Yeah. I like that. So about twice as many speakers, as you would have horn strokes to get that, um, constant intelligibility. Yeah, I was, uh, you mentioned design build, but, uh, I just wonder for your firm, uh, what is the kind of ratio of how much you do work you do in design bid build or design build?

Uh, just outta curiosity. Uh, Yeah, I have my initial assumptions, but I don't know, uh, how that stacks up. Well, our, our target number is zero. Um, zero design build it's it's it's well, you gotta, you gotta find your niche and, and, and we're we are, we work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer, so.

We're not gonna strike out our own and start, you know, start up an engineering firm. And, um, and North Carolina recently changed things up to where in the past, you know, we would get a job. With nothing. And we'd we'd team up with an engineer and, um, they would lay stuff out and work with us and we would, you know, do the design and they would stamp our drawing.

And, uh, here recently, the North Carolina said, you can't do that anymore. If, if you stamp that drawing and you have to be on staff at that firm, um, you know, we do shop drawings. We can't, you know, we can't keep a, a engineer on staff full time cause they would starve. So we basically produce shop drawings.

We don't wanna get into that design build world. Um, like I said, we got our little niche producing stock drawings and, and, uh, that goes pretty well for us. That's okay. I don't think you're missing out on too much. That design build stuff can be really difficult unless you work for a firm that just that's all they do.

So I had the opportunity to do a little bit of both, but, um, it's. It's definitely a different gear, a different type of project team, team composition. Yeah. And you probably see those more in your, your suppression world because typically a suppression system's in a, in a facility that has high hazards or special circumstances that you can't really just open up a book and say, you know, do X, Y, Z, you have to get a, you know, risk analysis and engineer evolved.

And it's, it's, it's, it's a full blown deal. Um, so. That's through niche. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So I'm sure it varies highly from system to system, uh, and you know, notification devices or. Initiation devices, but, uh, I never really, I'm always kind of, uh, using just rule of thumb guidance, but, um, how many devices typically do you see on like each notification device notification appliance extender panel?

I always kinda use 50 as a rule of thumb, but, um, I never get to do the. The actually calculations. I mean, I review the calculations, but, um, yeah, I don't know if you had some, uh, anecdotal, um, information on that subject. Yeah, again, that would be the, the role of the engineering technician. So, um,

it really depends on, on the, the manufacturer. Um, I guess. 50 devices. You probably think about a four circuit, you know, power supply. Um, that's probably about, I guess, six amps. So, um, we really never see the, the power supplies on a, on a project. Uh, typically they won't even tell you where the panel's gonna be and you'll, you know, work with the installer and the owner to establish those locations.

Um, With the new E D devices that are out, they consume, you know, much less power. So back in the old days of 50, that's probably gonna turn into, you know, maybe a hundred. Um, but it's not only the load. It's also the, the voltage drop. Um, you know, you could have, you know, 50 devices, but if they're running a mile, you, you're not gonna run all those devices on that circuit because you're not gonna have enough voltage, you got enough power, but you don't have enough voltage.

So that's really what, what the technician is gonna do. Or we do is we just, like I said, we connect the dots when we make it work. Um, and pretty much nine times out of 10, I can lay these things out and, uh, and won't get in trouble. It's that 10th time that you make an assumption and, and. Actually do the calculations and then get burnt.

But, um, yeah, I, I think you're, you're good with that, that ballpark, and that's a good starting out number. Um, but, but like I said, until you actually get into the calculations, um, and see that that's when your results will come out. Um, yeah, no, I appreciate that, that piece of guidance, that definitely helps me have some, uh, more information to make decisions on thinking about length of run and thinking about how, you know, close to the notification extender panel or the original fire alarm panel is from the most remote devices, uh, something to take into consideration.

So. Yeah. Uh, it's interesting too. You were talking a little bit about the, you know, the laws, uh, where you work at and, and how that kind of influences the role of the, of the engineering team. And, you know, the composition, I just, uh, yeah, I thought that was a great point. And how knowledge about your state or your legal entity that kind of governs?

Um, the, the different roles is really important in what you're allowed to do as a professional. Yeah. And of course that's, that's driven by the, the engineer because I don't get those memos. Um, and that actually came from the North Carolina board of engineering examiners. And, um, I believe what, um, prompted that action was that some, you know, some engineers will stamp a napkin if you pay 'em, um,

Of course, you know, they don't don't look at it or, or don't do whatever. So I think that's why they, they came up with that requirement to have both those people in the same, under the same roof. Cuz I guess in that sense, they're not just stamping a piece of paper. They're actually working with a technician or working with the, the design firm to actually let these systems out.

Um, and that really, that really you find those on the, on. On the smaller projects. And we'll see, 'em, you know, let's say somebody, you know, that there was a residence that was zoned commercial, and now that house is now a daycare and they go in and they wanna turn this house into a daycare. Um, well, what they would have to do is get an architect and an engineer and lay all that stuff out and then come to us and let us do the, the shop drawings and, you know, $10,000 later, they got a nice fire alarm design for a, you.

Small small business. So it's that financial burden. That's gonna put that small project or that small structure. Um, I guess it's gonna price them outta, outta a fire alarm system. And that's not really, really good when the cost is your deciding factor on protection. Yeah. Usually cost is one of the main factors, uh, like, you know, that you're always fighting against even for fire and life safety, which is remarkable as people who install systems to help save people's lives that were still, you know, Pairing stuff down to just the, the fewest nuts and bolts we can have just to the absolute minimum of what the code allows.

And they're still, you know, shaking us for, for, you know, not using any more conduit that we absolutely have to, or, you know, getting the, the pipe scheduled down to the thinnest that you can. Um, so yeah, I definitely hear what you're saying about price being a big factor. Yeah, many, many years ago, I went out on a, I was a, I was plant technician then and I had to go out, I guess we had a client, they had an, their insurance company came in and told 'em they had to get a fire alarm system else.

They're gonna raise their premiums. So they wanted me to go out there and kind of just see what would be involved and, and putting a fire alarm system in. And this was a, um, This place produced wooden signs. So they did a lot of woodworking and had, you know, lays and sand and stuff. And at one point there was, uh, Pau in the corner.

And I know my days of woodworking that saw us is almost explosive as propane under the right conditions. So we, uh, went in, did our little design, gave them a price, and I think it was probably. $6,000 maybe for the system and everything. And they said that it'd be cheaper to pay the premium on their insurance than it would be to put the fire alarm system in.

And I just said, okay. So, I mean, they made the choice to pay a couple hundred dollars a month, extra and risk having their place burned down. But I guess that's the choice I made, man. That is, uh, that's kind of sad and disheartening to hear that. Did a business owner would choose to that. But I guess, uh, it's just, like you said, uh, it can be cost prohibitive, these systems and in getting engineers and you know, or technicians on to install.

But yeah, that's a little bit disheartening. I mean, I understand the expenses is not small, but on the scale of. You know, a lot of the buildings that I'm working on or that I've worked on in the past $6,000 is, is pretty, is pretty small compared to, you know, what other trades have to pay to get their systems installed, you know, to a H V a C or some of these other, um, kind of more widespread disciplines.

That's, uh, fairly INP. Yeah, but not to consider the loss loss of live and property when there's a fire. You know, if you get sued by an employee's relative, because they died in a fire, that's gonna be a lot more than $6,000. Yeah. Yeah. Without a doubt, without a doubt. Well, Paul I'd know, uh, uh, one more time or we should, uh, plug Cape fear community to college.

And you know, another benefit that we talked about before, but. Just thought bear mentioning again, is that it comes at a very, very reasonable price for people who are looking to, um, get some continuing education credits or wanna buff up on their fire alarm skills for the nice set exams. But yeah. Yeah, I think that's, uh, that's a great deal.

Yeah. We don't like to, to name names, but if you compare our cost per CEU to all the industry training on the market, we definitely have 'em beat hands down our, our 180 5 for our course. Uh, we'll give you 14.4 college credits. And, um, if you're gonna use that for your CEP, that's 45 CEP points, um, real quick.

And then you've learned something in the process. And of course your engineers can use those, use those for PhDs as well, ares. So we, we even, we even train engineers. Yeah. That's a good deal. I, I still need to, I still need to sign up. I was telling you last time, but I'm still serious about getting in there and learning something myself.

I'm sure that I got, plenty to, plenty to buff up on. Well, um, you know, we've, we definitely. Hurt some engineers feelings, but you know, that that's the whole point is that, that that's not their job. You know, their job isn't to know all the nuts and bolts of the far alarm code, because that's what we do. So, um, I worked at a company.

We had a FPE on staff when I was developing the, the curriculum and he took a couple test questions. Didn't do very well. And, but like I said, he was, he's an engineer. He wasn. A technician. So, um, just Google, uh, fast at C FCC, F a S T at C FCC. And it should pop up at the top and, uh, check out our website.

And we'll definitely, um, take you in April when the next class starts our next semester. sounds good. Sounds good. Well, Paul, what kinda to round it out for the end of the podcast, what kind of, uh, trends other trends have you been seeing in the industry? I know that it seems like we can't shake this, this COVID business, but, um, what else are you seeing in trends with work?

I know we've talked about, um, things being abnormally busy around. The end slash beginning of the year, like you, you were saying to me, um, on air at the beginning of the podcast, but, uh, what else are you seeing? Well, we were, uh, we're definitely seeing a lack of qualified personnel to, to install and maintain fire alarm systems.

So, um, I guess, I guess, like I mentioned, a lot of that COVID money was being shifted over to capital projects and we probably had more schools and colleges and we've had. 10 years of doing design work. So, uh, if you want to do fire alarms, its definitely work out there. COVID or not. Uh, fire alarm people are essential employees, but I think we're past that essential pandemic, uh, hysterics, but, um, Fire alarm technicians are in demand.

For sure. Yeah. I've been seeing across the board. It seems like there is just an absolute, uh, vacuum for people needing qualified professionals. Like you were saying, it just seems like everybody I'm talking to says, yeah, we can't find enough people to do the work. We can't find enough people to, to hire, you know, so, uh, I'm definitely seeing that on my side.

Yeah. And between me and you, if they keep waiting the wages, I might just quit my job and go back to installations. So

that's pretty funny, much less stress, much less stress. Just, just pulling, just pulling wire and putting fire alarm devices in. Yep. Yep. Sounds good. Well, Paul, anything else you'd like to talk about before we end it? Where can people find you at if they want to, uh, learn more about Cape fair community college or draw fire, LLC, I'll drop some links, but, uh, plug anything you got sure.

Just, just Google it. You'll they know where we're at. You can't hide from the, the big, big brother. Um, but yeah, it's fast. It seems to see, or, or Google the, the program and, uh, it'll definitely pop up there for. And, uh, someone LinkedIn as well. So it was hard to hide. sounds good. Well, Paul, thank you so much for coming on the podcast again.

And, uh, yeah, it was good talking to you. Yes, sir. GU I appreciate the, uh, invitation and we're always glad to share an, any knowledge and experience we may have.

Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional.

If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.