Fire-Lite to do online training

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NORTHFORD, Conn.--To meet the ever-growing demand for more training, Fire-Lite, part of the Honeywell Fire Systems, plans to launch a Web-based training program early in 2008.
Like other fire manufacturers and distributors, Fire-Lite already invests considerable time and resources into training. This year alone, Fire-Lite is holding 70 free-of-charge, two- and three-day "Fire Academy" training sessions across the country.
"The big trend in training," said Jeff Behuniak, director of training for Honeywell Fire Systems, "is 'Give me more training, greater challenge and variety and high quality and do it in less time.'"
That's no easy task, but Behuniak believes adding online training will "extend our training reach and make it more available and enjoyable." However, Web-based training will not supplant in-person training, which is "very hands-on, heavily equipment based."
Who's filling the training rooms and chomping at the bit to sign up for more? Is the technology getting more complicated? Are more security installers or electrical contractors wanting to break into the fire market? Or are installers simply trying to keep up with licensing requirements? According to Behuniak and some installers who spoke to Security Systems News, the answer is a combination of all three.
"Many more AHJ's are demanding quality installers and evidence of training and certification," he said. This often happens, Behuniak said, when building plans are submitted to local authorities for approval. "These AHJ's don't want these people designing a fire alarm system unless they're trained."
Steve Lutz is owner of IFS Resources, a fire and security installation company based in Oklahoma City, Okla. Lutz employs seven technicians, all of whom he sends to training. He said Oklahoma may soon implement continuing education requirements for licensing, and many installers may be hedging their bets to ensure they can stay licensed.
Asked if more installers are entering the fire market from straight security backgrounds or other low-voltage areas, he said that's always been the case. Breaking into fire "can be overwhelming for new companies, but as they grow in experience and expand into more complicated systems," they may be interested in fire.
Bob Urbani spent 25 years in manufacturing before starting his own company, Unified Systems LLC of Plymouth, Mass. Urbani does a lot of subcontract work and has introduced several electrical-contractor colleagues to Fire-Lite training. He's been going to Fire-Lite training courses for 15 years and these days "they're usually packed."
Urbani joked that he wasn't "too crazy about more and more people getting into the business" and said it's no secret that fire "is an area to expand your margin ... if your customer needs burg, they probably need fire too."