Fire companies in NYC will need certificate to inspect and service

The industry says measure will ensure high standards
 - 
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—By August, anyone who inspects, tests or services fire alarm systems in New York City must be officially certified to do so by the city’s fire department.

The new requirement is a good one, according to the Metropolitan Burglar & Fire Alarm Association of New York (MBFAA), which is based here.

“The industry feels that this is a positive move,” Alan Glasser, executive director of the MBFAA, told Security Systems News. He said the requirement “now ensures that the technicians have some sort of a certification, meaning they’ve had some required education on the control panels that they’re going out to service and other equipment, or at least they have taken the test.”

He said the new requirement would help ensure high standards in the industry and better protect the population of the city.

To help inform alarm companies about the new Certificate of Fitness for fire alarm systems inspection, testing and service technicians, the MBFAA has invited the Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) to send a representative to a meeting this week to speak on the issue. Glasser said attendees at the June 21 meeting will learn “exactly what the Certificate of Fitness is, what the requirements are and how to take the test.”

The state and the city already have regulations governing fire alarms, Glasser said. “You need a state license for the business of installing and maintaining security and fire alarm systems,” he said.

In addition, New York City requires that anyone who installs a fire alarm system have a master electrician license.

Also, Glasser, said, the city requires that anyone who cleans smoke detectors have a Certificate of Fitness to do that job.

However, when it came to inspection, testing and maintenance, Glasser said, “the fire department discovered in their annual inspection of fire alarm systems there were people serving the systems that had no real background. They were just telling their customers ‘We can service your fire alarm,’ but had no training.”

That’s why the fire department came up with the idea of requiring a Certificate of Fitness for those servicing and maintaining fire alarm systems, he said. He said the requirement “is not new and it’s done in other places around the country.”

The FDNY requirements state that to get the S-97 certificate, the principal of the company must be NICET Level II or higher. Technicians also have to pass a test, but a temporary T-97 certificate, good for 18 months, will give them more time to do that.

“It’s a win-win-win for the fire department, for the people in the city of New York, because they know their systems are being maintained by certified people, and for the alarm companies,” Glasser said. He said the companies “do have to do a little bit of training because their technicians have to go to panel school, study for this test, and have to take this test, but it’s not that hard.”

In April, American Security Systems, based in Long Island City and one of New York City’s largest independent security and life safety providers, became the first company to be approved by the FDNY to inspect, test and service fire alarms, according to CEO Larry Dolin.

He supports the new Certificate of Fitness requirement, he told SSN. “It will eliminate most of the non-licensed or non-insured, or the little guys that are out there doing work they’re not really qualified to do,” Dolin said.