Are You Ready for the Tech Apprenticeship Program?

This month’s fire expert gives new meaning to trained technicians as many adopt the ways of NBFAA’s apprenticeship programs.

NBFAA President George Gunning, president of USA Alarm Systems Inc. in Monrovia, Calif., was challenged by California law when alarm installers there were faced with a new law, supported by most electrical contractors, that required a “journeyman” to be on any public works job because the taxpayer’s money was being used. California’s alarm industry was faced with a dilemma. After much debate, the NBFAA decided to work with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) and surprised many contractors in the Golden State when they began work on an apprenticeship program strictly for security and fire alarm installers.

Apprenticeship programs are often associated with trade unions, so before you read any further, this needs to be addressed: There are two types of programs the Department of Labor regulates. For union shops, it is the Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JAC) - sometimes called Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC). Regulation for the alarm industry, which is primarily comprised of non-union merit shops, is handled by a Unilateral Apprenticeship Committee (UAC) – sometimes called a Unilateral Apprenticeship Training Committee (UATC). The merit shop apprentice training program has nothing to do with unionization.

The NBFAA’s merit shop program was subsequently certified by the OA. This certification allows for each state to set up their own board, then develop and register their local/state apprenticeship program. This process also permits any State Apprenticeship Agency/Council to adopt additional state/local requirements into their apprenticeship program. At its core will be the minimum apprenticeship program developed by the NBFAA, which will allow for training uniformity and reciprocity between states.

Because of these efforts, the National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards has named our occupation: “Protective Signal Installer (Fire/Life Safety & Electronic Security Installer)” and has assigned our profession a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) identification number of 49-2098.00.

Alarm companies can now use the 49-2098.00 code to locate national, state, and local wage data. The prevailing wage data used will be specific to our industry, and we will no longer use the electrical contractor’s prevailing wage scale. In fact, the federal occupational network Web site, O*NET, describes this new job classification as one for those that: “Install, program, maintain and repair security and fire alarm wiring and equipment. Ensure that work is in accordance with relevant codes. Exclude "Electricians" (47-2111) who do a broad range of electrical wiring.” When bidding on projects paid for by public taxes, you can now better estimate your cost, and place your best competitive bid.

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