Tech-News & Views
Toronto, Ontario - November 1, 2016 - November and December are special months for Electricians and Electrical Contractors in the Province of Ontario. Inspectors will be out in force to check on licensing and qualifications of people performing electrical work - and the focus isn’t just on the big cities. For more information, read this article in Electrical Business magazine: https://www.ebmag.com/safety-news/electrical-hazards-blitz-coming-next-week-to-ontario-nov-dec-2016-19269
We’d like to see a similar “Blitz” for people engaged in the service and testing of Building Life Safety Equipment!
KIDDE RECALLS 5 MILLION PLUS COMBINATION CO / SMOKE ALARMS!
Toronto, Ontario - Kidde Canada is recalling 1.5 million KN-COSM-1B combination smoke / CO alarms manufactured between June 1st, 2004 and March 2011. An additional three million detectors are being recalled in the United States. Apparently a firmware glitch may silence the seven year CO detector component’s end-of-life alert if the battery is replaced. This may give owners the false impression that the trouble “chirp” was as a result of a low battery and the unit still has a fully functional Carbon Monoxide sensor. For more information, please visit our Bulletins page.
Surrey, British Columbia - In case you missed it, October 18th marked the ninth anniversary of the launch of www.firetechs.net. The Fire Technicians Network is funded entirely from revenues generated by memberships, fee-based educational courses and services, the sales of handbooks, and by donation. To all those who have supported our efforts over the past nine years, and to those that continue to do so, we extend a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU!
REGISTER! IT’S IMPORTANT!
Vancouver, British Columbia - It’s important for all technicians performing the service, inspection and maintenance of building life safety systems in Canada to sign up to receive notifications of Seminars in your area and to register for our online Techinars. Starting in January, 2017, the CFAA is going to require you to log training hours (technicians in British Columbia that are ASTTBC RFPTs will also need to log their training activities). Up to six credit hours can be obtained from NON-CFAA sources as long as they cover fire alarm related materials. Our Techinars are reasonably priced at $10.00 for each one hour interactive session and $15.00 for the two hour ones (please have your pop-corn ready before they start).
We guarantee it will be time well spent!
ASTTBC’S “WA” ENDORSEMENT KICKER
Surrey, British Columbia - In ASTTBC’s latest News Bulletin (Issue #3 October 2016), it’s been confirmed that only the Red Seal Sprinkler Fitter ticket will be accepted as the educational component for the “WA” (water based extinguishing systems endorsement). This is essentially good news for those RFPT’s that got their “WA” Endorsements BEFORE January 2016. The BCIT Course in Automatic Sprinkler and Standpipe Systems Testing is apparently no longer being accepted. The Red Seal Sprinkler Fitter ticket is a four year program of study. That’s a real kick in the teeth for those technicians wanting the “full” stamp but a huge bonus for those that beat the cut-off date. Of course, this begs two questions:
1. What was wrong with the dedicated NFPA 25 testing course BCIT was teaching?
2. How is this change going to impact those individuals currently working towards their “WA” Endorsements?
PROVISIONAL TRAINEES STATUS CHANGE
Surrey, British Columbia - ASTTBC RFPTs with “T” (Trainee) designations are going to have a two year deadline imposed where they have to meet the requirements for the “F” (Full Certification) designation on their endorsements. It’s a “use it or lose it” kinda proposition. This could put some technicians in a real pickle. An example being a technician who decided to take the training for “SM” (Smoke Control) and who may no longer be working for a company that provides this service. They’ll be “out” the cost of the course as they won’t be able to meet the practical work experience required to obtain the “F” designation.
There are still a number of “Trainee” designates on the list that can boast they’ve had “T’s” for twenty-plus years. It was back in April 2010 when ASTTBC stated they would be imposing the same two year moratorium on the RFPTs with the “Interim” Designation (see the article in July 2010 Techs Fire Break). The “I’s” still have it along with their seals. Is this more of the same? We’ll have to wait and see!
CONFUSION CONTINUES TO REIGN
Toronto, Ontario - Despite frequent updates and explanations in the CFAA LinkedIN Forum, many technicians remain in the dark about the Continuing Education requirements that become mandatory for renewals after January 1st, 2017. The May 2016 Technical Seminar was supposed to have provided eight (8) hours worth of credits if the participants successfully passed the exam. Very few of them did because, as it turns out, the exam covered general knowledge questions rather than ones based on the materials presented during the Seminar which many weren’t adequately prepared to answer. Surprise!
Despite the Ontario Chapter’s specially appointed education task group’s efforts to have the results re-evaluated, the CFAA’s National Board wouldn’t budge. This is disappointing, to say the least, because many of the attendees took time off work to stay for the full day’s events anticipating they’d get their required eight (8) hours in one shot, and not have to worry about it again for a full year. There’s also some additional time related constraints that will be imposed. You won’t be able to use the education credits past a certain date (March 1st, 2017 was being thrown around at one point).
What this all means is that first - if you didn’t pass the exam following the May 2016 Technician Seminar, you only get four (4) hours credit for the whole day’s event (plus a bonus lunch). And second - for technicians renewing after January 1, 2017, you can only use those credits until the end of February. If you’re renewing after March 1st, 2017, you’re going to have to find the means to accumulate the required credits for the following year’s renewal. Now I’m pretty sure the powers that be (or the Grand Poobah of CFAA himself) will be revisiting these requirements as the different dates approach (one thing I can tell you is that they won’t want to risk losing those renewal payments). So, don’t panic. Keep calm. Drink tea and watch the CFAA website (or this one) for more updates. I understand their recent November 2nd Seminar was very well received by the people that attended.
CONSPIRACY THEORY, OR...?
When you have a Professional Association of CANADIAN fire protection equipment service technicians referencing NFPA 72 fire alarm training over a Canadian Programme developed right here in British Columbia that’s when you just KNOW you’ve got to add that heavy gauge backyard barbecue rated aluminum foil to your shopping list!
NFPA 72 has NO OFFICIAL STANDING in Canada. It’s not referenced by either the National Building Code or the National Fire Code. NFPA 72 (2013) IS mentioned as a reference publication in the Standard for Installation of Fire Alarm Systems (CAN/ULC-S524-14). Our neighbours to the south do have some influence on Canadian Standards Development (in point of fact, a few of our Standards are even bi-national and used in BOTH countries). Changes and additions incorporated in NFPA 72 (and others) often find their way into our National Standards, but only after a Clause has been carefully examined, discussed and appropriately edited for inclusion.
The suggestion that a NFPA 72 training module can be used to meet the continuing education requirements for a Registered Fire Protection Technician may also explain the use of some rather oddly formatted report forms we’ve seen used in the Lower Mainland. Let’s not even go there!
THAT NEW OFFICE SMELL!
Surrey, British Columbia - Every few years or so (twice now in recent memory) the good Captain of the ship, S.S. ASTTBC, decides to slap on a new coat of paint or two in order to spruce things up a bit around the office. The recent changes to the fire protection program’s webpage embodies much more than simply a new coat of paint, though. We’ve been promised a new (updated) Practice Guideline, which is being worked on by a “superb group of members and stakeholders” - (their words not ours), new forms (albeit now hidden behind a members login page), new educational initiatives and other exciting member-only resources.
There’s a new aroma of exclusivity in the air that’s more overpowering than the Captain’s aftershave. It speaks to a major shift in attitude that now denies the public (and stakeholders) access to policies and procedures that directly impact how life safety equipment is being inspected and tested in British Columbia. By all means, let’s not show the public and stakeholders what you’re up to! Let’s keep everything a closely guarded secret for your paid-up members only.
In fact, let’s extend this to include an official published listing for British Columbia based companies involved in the fire protection service industry that happen to employ ASTTBC RFPTs. For companies that don’t, I’ve been told that you simply won’t meet the listing criteria. And if you DO happen to employ one and he/she decides to leave... Well, I’m sure there are policies (secret ones) in place that will allow you enough time to source a suitable replacement before that listing is summarily removed. After all, the new training program is turning out qualified technicians in droves now so there won’t be a shortage of good, reliable, Registered help, will there?
So, un-officially (and with tongue firmly in cheek), I’ll paraphrase ASTTBC’s new (updated) fire protection program policy for you:
We’re really making good on our twenty year promise of levelling the playing field! We’re just not going to SHOW you how we’re doing it. You’ll have to trust us!
NEW SPECIAL REPORT SERIES EXPLORES CANADIAN FIRE ALARM VERIFICATION
Surrey, British Columbia - The positive comments and feedback from two recently published LinkedIN articles on Canadian Fire Alarm Verification have prompted us to include them in our LIBRARY’s Special Reports section. Additional articles in the Series are in the works.
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!
Pitt Meadows, British Columbia - Slightly off-topic, but something everyone in the building life safety equipment service community has to contend with. They’re called “idiot drivers”. Watch the Mercedes (BC Licence Plate CE2 52C) pass me at time stamp 12:52:53. He's doing about 110 KMH in an 80 KMH zone and almost wipes out with the car changing lanes a little further on. And people wonder why our insurance rates are going up.
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