I am sure many of you are certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) in fire alarm systems and encourage your employees to become NICET-certified as well. NICET has been certifying individuals in fire protection fields since 1978. It began with the fire sprinkler layout program and expanded into fire suppression in the mid-1980s and then fire alarm systems in 1989. Today, many fire alarm specifications and state or local authorities require NICET certification, so this is a good opportunity to keep you up-to-date on recent changes in the fire alarm systems certification program.


The NICET certification program was designed for fire alarm engineering technicians who perform system layout (plan preparation), system equipment selection, system installation, system acceptance testing, system troubleshooting, system servicing, and/or system technical sales. NICET covers applicable codes and standards, types of detectors and signaling systems, supervision requirements, power requirements, building/space structure and occupancy considerations, and basic electricity and electronics.


About two years ago, NICET started changing the format of the test from an individually customizable Work Element paper-and-pencil test to a standardized computer-based test (CBT). NICET did this partially to meet American National Standards Institute accreditation requirements. Now, most NICET tests for fire alarm systems are computer-based and are held at Pearson Vue Testing Centers around the country. A major advantage of this is that you can now take tests on your schedule instead of being restricted to taking a test offered only once per quarter on a Saturday at a local educational facility. For those of you who started NICET testing with the Work Element tests and are only a few elements from passing the next level, I strongly encourage you to contact NICET to see if you can finish testing under that method. They still offer some Work Element tests as they complete the transition, but this is ending soon.


Effective April 1, 2014, all fire alarm certification tests are now based on the list below. In recent years, NICET has limited the number of reference books that can be brought into the test. With this update, the following is what you are allowed to bring:


• Level 1—2013 NFPA 72 and 2011 NEC


• Level 2—2013 NFPA 72, 2011 NEC and 2012 IBC


• Level 3—2013 NFPA 72, 2011 NEC, 2012 IBC and 2012 NFPA 101


• Level 4—2013 NFPA 72, 2012 IBC and 2012 NFPA 101


According to the NICET website, “The references must be bound or secured in a three-ring binder with a title page. They may have highlighted text and self-adhesive index tabs or dividers that must be permanently attached. No other additions or modifications to the references are allowed. References with loose paper or pages and freestanding tabs (e.g., repositionable sticky notes) are not permitted into testing centers.”


You can make notes in your references as long as they are highlighted when you bring the books to the test. This is to ensure you are not writing any of the questions in your books.


The follow links from the NICET website show these references and others that may be helpful in preparing for the test. Just be mindful that you are not allowed to bring the other books into the testing center.


• www.nicet.org/default/assets/File/FAS_I_references.pdf

• www.nicet.org/default/assets/File/FAS_II_references.pdf

• www.nicet.org/default/assets/File/FAS_III_references.pdf

• www.nicet.org/default/assets/File/FAS_IV_references.pdf

NICET’s website also is greatly improved. If you go to the fire alarm systems page (enter that in the search box if you don’t see the link), you will find the information you need for the application process, content outlines for all four levels, a link to take practice tests (there is a charge for these), and the cost structure. In addition, the Pearson Vue website has free, sample, computer-based practice tests. Those of you unfamiliar with CBT will definitely want to do that.


Many new seminars are being developed to meet these new requirements. An added advantage is that they will also help you meet your continuing professional development points needed to maintain your certification.