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April 4, 2004

                             ET NEWS 
Issue No. 145   4-4-2004

- News
- ET Journal
- Job Opportunities
- Fire Alarm Class Schedule
- Comments & Acknowledgements




SAFETY Officials Advise Changing Fire Alarm Batteries
WJLA - Washington,DC,USA
Bethesda (AP) - As you're setting your clocks an hour ahead, don't forget to
change your smoke alarm batteries as well. Washington area fire departments and


COMPANY is given fire safety ultimatum
St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg,FL,USA
Some county officials are taken aback by the warning issued to Technology
Conservation Group regarding a fire alarm system. By JUSTIN GEORGE. ...


3 homing pigeons carried 4 GB (gigabytes) for 100 km ... bandwidth achieved by
the pigeons was 2.27 Mbps ... transferring a similar amount of information using
ADSL would have taken no less than 96 hours..."


I've made it, it's here, PLAY BALL!

I still think the Oregon Stadium Campaign
 made a big mistake by passing over my suggestion to rename the soon-to-be
 Portland Expos as the River City Trolley Dodgers, which would have set the
 stage for their move to Brooklyn after the 2057 season.

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has
rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard,
rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this
game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and
that could be good again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely
come." The immortal words of Terrance Mann, played by James Earl Jones, from
Field of Dreams.

Suggested reading:
 o The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn 1972. Over-written story about the 1952
 o Summer of '49 by David Halberstam 1989. Very well written story about the
 1949 Yankees.
 o My Favorite Summer 1956 by Mickey Mantle & Phil Pepe 1991. Mediocre story
 about the 1956 Yankees.


I'll see you in Happyrock this week.

Have fun!




This installment will cover a variety of methods that may be used to prepare for
a NICET exam. None of which require practice tests, teaching-to-the-test, or
anything that dilutes the value of NICET certification.

When I went through the NICET certification process I did so because my students
(apprentice electricians) started asking me questions about the program. Not
knowing much about it, I went to work to find out how. What a convoluted
program! Once I figured out how to apply I started studying for the exam. Not
knowing any better I used the Program Detail Manual (PDM) as my study guide. The
PDM includes a description for each element and I used this description to
prepare for the exam.

[Download the Program Detail Manual here ->]

For example, on page 9 of the PDM you'll find:

Understand the various types of fire alarm systems. Understand the electrical
requirements, the alarm initiating devices, the control functions, the alarm
indicating appliances and the power requirements of a fire alarm system. Know
the types of signaling services that can be provided and the automatic fire
detectors in common use. (NFPA 72, NFPA 101, Fire Alarm Signaling Systems)

There's a *lot* of useful information offered up with each of these element
descriptions. To prepare for this test I would turn each sentence into a
question of myself;

"Do I understand the various types of fire alarm systems?" Hmm. NFPA committee
has some unique definitions of terms that don't seem to include common sense, so
I'd better dig into the reference material (found within the parentheses
following the element description). For this particular element, 31001, the
references are NFPA 72, NFPA 101, and a book called Fire Alarm Signaling
Systems. I had NFPA 72 but I didn't have either of the other two references.
After a quick review of NFPA 72 I found the answer to my question and wrote it
down, including the article from whence it came. As I continued to study
elements, I found that I didn't have all or even most of the referenced material
so I borrowed a copy from someone, bought a copy, or did without. Some of the
references are excellent resources and I still use many of them today. I found
some of the references to be unnecessary (caveats to follow).

I followed this process for each and every element in Levels 1-IV and kept notes
that I later used during an exam. I also shared my notes with my students as I
showed them how to familiarize themselves with the reference material. I wound
up with a handout for each element. Some were short; 1 or 2 pages while others
had 20 or more pages.

As I taught my 10-week Fire Alarm Systems class, I would hand out copies of this
material as we covered it, weaving NICET study material into the classroom
material. We would review NFPA 70 and 72 and then we would discuss how to
prepare the books for an exam by using tabs and memory shortcuts to help in
finding relevant code language. I survived 4 exams and made lots of mistakes,
which I also shared with my students via the handouts such that they would be
better prepared than I.

Another instructor noticed what I was doing and saw an opportunity to bundle the
handouts into a book and sell it as a NICET Test Preparation Handbook. As a
staunch capitalist I want everyone in the known universe to buy a copy of every
book I ever write, however, it isn't necessary.

 GUIDE. COST $0.00.

As you wind your way through the PDM you will inevitably find reference to
material that you dont have. The intent of a NICET examination is to test your
ability to answer questions using the reference material that you use to perform
your job. I agree with that up to a point. Electricians use NFPA 70 regularly.
If they work on fire alarm systems they use NFPA 72 and A Building Code
(i.e. UBC) but they probably dont the Fire Protection Handbook, or Fire Alarm
Signaling Systems, or the litany of NFPA publications, not to mention the
exorbitantly priced UL Standards.

While preparing for my first NICET exam I asked my employer to send me to an
NFPA seminar. I pointed out that it would make me a better employee, add value
to his company, and oh by the way, it would help to prepare me for a NICET exam.
My employer agreed, eventually. I attended a 3-day NFPA 72 seminar taught by
Wayne Moore and Dean Wilson. It was great! I was able to hone my skills with
NFPA 72, become more proficient at code compliance and job estimating, and, as
an added bonus I was able to ask Masters Moore and Wilson about the history of
some the goofier NFPA requirements. You can't put a price on that.

Attending an appropriate seminar right before a NICET exam is *highly*
recommended. Participation in a seminar helps you to focus on the material that
you will most likely be asked questions about. It also helps you to better
understand and apply relevant codes and standards at work. There are less-
expensive alternatives to the NFPA seminar. AFAA, for example, regularly
provides 2-day Intermediate (NICET I & II) and 2-day Advanced (NICET III & IV)
Fire Alarm Seminars nationwide, which help attendees prepare for NICET
examinations. AFAA seminars go way beyond covering NFPA 72. The discussion
includes much of the ancillary material that test-takers need to be familiar
with during an exam. The additional material comes from NFPA 13, 20, 25, 70, 75,
90A, 92A, 101, 110, 170, Fire Alarm Signaling Systems, Fire Protection Handbook,
IBC, UL 864, ANSI/ASME A17.1, ANSI/CABO 117.1, and much more. By attending these
AFAA seminars you don't necessarily have to buy all of the referenced standards,
thereby saving money.


After preparing your NICET study guide, or buying a copy of mine, and after attending a seminar, you will be well prepared
for an exam, however, you're still going to have to buy a few items to round
things out. I have a short list of highly recommend publications that are
reasonably priced:


    o UGLY's Electrical References. Cost $14.00 (or less)
    o System Sensor application guides. Cost $0.00. Download from here:
    o AIA A201. Cost $17.00 (approx). Purchase locally or here:
    o OSHA 2201. Cost $0.00. View/print on line here:
    o Print metric conversions from web pages. Cost $0.00. View a sample here:

The links provided are but ONE place where you can get these items. UGLY's, for
example, may also be found on eBay, at Home Depot, Lowes, Graybar, Platt, or
other electrical supply house.  

Here's a list of costs using these three alternatives to prepare for NICET level
I & II:

   $369.00  AFAA Intermediate seminar
   $ 14.00  UGLY's
   $ 17.00  AIA A201
 + $100.00  NICET Study guide (optional)
   $500.00  Total

To prepare for level III & IV:

   $369.00  AFAA Advanced seminar
 + $100.00  NICET Study guide (optional)
   $469.00  Total

If you decide not to attend a seminar, you should consider forming a study group
with others preparing for a NICET exam and grill each other using the Program
Detail Manual to prepare for testing.

Some employers will help with the costs associated with NICET, some require
certification, some offer incentives, and some won't or can't help financially.
In the worst case, you spend several hundred bucks to improve your lot in life
over the course of a year or two and get it all back when you file your income
ADVICE. IRS tax form 2106 *may* allow you to deduct some or all of your
un-reimbursed employee expenses, including costs associated with NICET

Here's another way of looking at it:
 NICET study guides $200.00
 Attending AFAA Seminars $738.00
 Misc. reference material $31.00
 Adding "SET" after your name; priceless

Re-visiting last week's list, you'll see that it isn't necessary to buy all of
those books:

Alternative   Elements   Reference
-----------   --------   ---------
AFAA seminar  52        *NFPA 72
AFAA seminar  29       **Fire Alarm Signaling Systems
AFAA seminar  16         Fire Protection Handbook
AFAA seminar  13        *NFPA 101
AFAA seminar   9        *NFPA 70
unnecessary    4         Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems
AFAA seminar   4         Fire Protection Equipment Directory
unnecessary    3         SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering
AFAA seminar   3         Standard Building Code
AFAA seminar   3         Uniform Building Code
AFAA seminar   3         NFPA 13 (includes NFPA 231C)
See notes      2      ***AIA A201
AFAA seminar   2         Basic/National Building Code
unnecessary    2         Building Professionals Guide to Contract Doc's
AFAA seminar   2        *NFPA 170
AFAA seminar   2        *NFPA 75
AFAA seminar   2        *NFPA 90A
unnecessary    2         UL 268
AFAA seminar   2         UL 864
AFAA seminar   2        *ANSI/ASME A17.1
unnecessary    1         ANSI S12.31
Web page       1         ASTM E-380 (ANSI SI 10)
unnecessary    1         Construction Contracting
AFAA seminar   1         Electrical Construction Mat'ls Directory
unnecessary    1         Fire Protection Through Modern Building Codes
System Sensor  1         Guide for Use of Duct Smoke Detectors
System Sensor  1         Guide for Use of System Smoke Detectors
AFAA seminar   1        *NFPA 110
unnecessary    1         NFPA 1221 (relevant info moved to NFPA 72)
unnecessary    1         NFPA 12A
unnecessary    1         NFPA 80
unnecessary    1         NFPA 92A
Web page       1         OSHA 2201
unnecessary    1         UL 217
unnecessary    1         UL 268A
unnecessary    1         UL 521

  * - If you don't attend an AFAA seminar to get this info, you should seriously
	consider buying the NFPA standard.
 ** - Much of the relevant material is covered in AFAA seminars however, I
 highly recommend that you buy this book.
*** - Buy AIA A201 (for ~$17.00) or you can study the RFP's, specifications, and
contracts from your place of work. 
unnecessary  - This is my opinion and is based upon cost/benefit. At least be
aware of what this standard contains.
AFAA seminar - The relevant bits are covered in an AFAA seminar.

Next week I'll discuss the non-specific references (i.e. general ... textbooks)
and the non-fire alarm NICET elements such as first-aid, mathematics, etc.


Place your "job opportunity" or "seeking employment" ad here.


April 13-14, 2004 Charleston, SC
Fire Alarm Plan Review Seminar
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems

April 20-21, 2004 Wilmington, DE
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)

April 27-29, 2004 Anaheim, CA
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)

May 3-5, 2004 Phoenix, AZ
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)

May 11, 2004 Buffalo, NY
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
More information is forthcoming.>

May 18-20, 2004 Cleveland, OH
Fire Alarm Plan Review Seminar
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)

June 8-10, 2004 Kansas City, MO
Fire Alarm Plan Review Seminar
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)
More information is forthcoming.

June 15-17, 2004 Des Moines, IA
Fire Alarm System Fundamentals
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
Fire Alarm Plan Review Seminar
More information is forthcoming.

July 6-8, 2004 Seattle, WA
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)
More information is forthcoming.

July 13-14, 2004 Chicago, IL
Advanced Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET III/IV)
More information is forthcoming.

July 20-22, 2004 Salt Lake City, UT
Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
Intermediate Fire Alarm Seminar (NICET I/II)
More information is forthcoming.


ET News is written nearly every week and almost always sent on Sunday.

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Purchase NFPA, ICC, and more online

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Code(r), NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code(r), NFPA 101(r) Life Safety Code(r),
Copyright(c) NFPA, Quincy, MA 02269. This reprinted material is not the complete
and official position of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which is
represented only by the standard in its entirety. 
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This reprinted material is not the complete and official position of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which is represented only by the standard in its entirety.