American Alarms Blog

Why is NICET important?

by Adam Jacobs 11/18/2021

NICET is the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies.  There have been other certifications in alarm technologies, but none as complete and rigorous as the NICET certification programs.  The programs are self-study, so they are a challenge to complete.  We all know how hard it is to come home after a long day and spend your evening studying.  We are designing, installing, and testing life safety systems so consistency is important.  That's why NICET certification is important.  Requiring certification like NICET is the only way to ensure a level of consistency in the systems that are installed and operating.  American Alarms promotes and requires NICET certification in all technicians and designers.  We also encourage office staff to pass the NICET tests, because the information is just that important.  For more information on the NICET certifications, see their website:

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Occupational Licensing - Alarm Contractors

by Adam Jacobs 11/18/2021

In the 1950's only 5% of workers in America needed a license to do their job.  Today it's estimated that 19% of all workers in the U.S. need an occupational license.  Workers who install, program, test/inspect, and service fire alarm systems are in that 19%.  For at least the last 10 years, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal's Division, has required anyone wanting to work on fire alarm systems to get a license first.  Here are the different levels (endorsements) of licensing required for fire alarm in Iowa:

#1 = Fire alarm system contractor or installer (all-inclusive, 2-7 not needed)

Allows the license holder to do anything related to fire alarm systems - install, test/inspect, service, and program.

#2 = Nurse call systems only

#3 = Security alarms only

#4 = Alarm system maintenance/inspection only

#5 = Dwelling unit alarm system only (Residential)

#6 = Alarm system component installer only

Allows license holder to hang devices, but not to program or test the system.

#7 = Alarm system assistant (must be supervised by #1 license holder)


In order to get each of these licenses, you need to be pre-certified using an approved training/testing course:

NICET II Fire Alarm Systems or ESA Certified Alarm Tech 2 = #1 State License

NICET I Fire Alarm Systems or ESA Certified Alarm Tech 1 = #2-#7 only


In addition to certification, before getting the Iowa license, we must also go through a complete criminal background check including fingerprinting.

To make sure you get a qualified alarm technician, ask to see the technician's State of Iowa license.  They should have a card with the state seal and a list of endorsements.  If their endorsements don't match what they have come to do for you, question them (or flog them) rigorously.  The state fire marshal doesn't have time to run around and check everyone's license, but you should.  Your safety and that of your co-workers, customers, and visitors are in their hands.  

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Why NICET certification?

by Adam Jacobs 11/18/2021

After a palm scan, photo ID check, receipt verification, and new photo, I was ready to take my test.  "Wow, they are serious about these tests!" I thought, as I locked my belongings in a locker.  For the next 3 hours I answered questions about everything from smoke detector placement, to strobe light coverage, to occupancy classes of new buildings.  I had to simulate trouble-shooting a wiring problem, calculate voltage drop on a circuit, and decide how to settle an employee dispute.  It was the widest variety of questions I have seen on any of the NICET certification tests.  Since this is my level IV Fire Alarm Systems test, it may be the last NICET test I take.  But as I finished the test and got my passing grade, I was reminded of how much I've learned since I started taking these tests.  I will always be a big supporter of the NICET certification.  I think it separates the people that are serious about life safety and the ones who are just out to make money in the business.  American Alarms pays for NICET testing for all employees that want it (or require it).  We also offer a pay bonus when employees graduate to a new NICET certification level.  It's that important.

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