Arizona orgs form ESA group

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Friday, August 1, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - Two years after beginning to work on a formal program to train alarm technicians in the state of Arizona, the state’s alarm and fire organizations are now on the brink of having one in place with hopes that it will make it easier to recruit people into the security industry.

Called the Electronic Systems Technician Internship Program, the program is a four-year apprenticeship geared towards alarm technicians and others who work in the data or low voltage markets. It will be adminstered by the Electronic Systems Association, a group formed by the Arizona Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the Arizona Automatic Fire Alarm Association to put the apprenticeship program in place.

The program comes at a pivotal time in the market, as security companies increasingly look for ways to recruit people into the field and a way to measure employee skill.

“It’s critical,” said Ben Wilson, president of the Electronics Systems Assocation, the group created to come up with the program. “The biggest thing it gives us is the ability to show a person a career path and a wage scale.”

To simplify matters, ESA recently adopted testing and the format created by the National Systems Contractors Association for a nationwide apprenticeship program for Arizona’ state program. ESA will manage the program for the state of Arizona, providing a centralized location and uniformity from an administrative perspective, said Dave Mitchell, vice president and founding director of the Arizona Automatic Fire Alarm Association, which cosponsored the creation of the ESA.

Like Wilson, Mitchell expects the program will aid security companies in recruiting employees. It will also provide a valuable tool to measure experience in the field.

“It’s always been a challenge,” said Mitchell. “You have people who come from varying degrees of backgrounds and today many of us are doing integrated system.” The program, he said, will get systems integrators on the same page.