Career Profile: Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installer
Fire protection systems are an essential part of every building, from homes and apartments, to factories and office skyscrapers. These systems ensure that the people living or working in a building are alerted to the risk or existence of a fire, so that they can evacuate or otherwise respond accordingly.
Fire protections systems aren’t a general construction task, however. Instead, specially trained tradespeople called Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installers are responsible for designing, installing, testing, and maintaining the sprinkler and alarm systems required for all homes, businesses, and buildings. Fire suppression systems can include both water-based systems, and chemical-based systems that use carbon dioxide or fire retardant foam compounds.
Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installers have an excellent knowledge of local and provincial fire codes, and will read and interpret diagrams and blueprints to plan and install the system. Measuring and cutting pipe, installing sprinklers, valves, alarms, pumps, and control equipment, then testing systems for safety and reliability are all part of the job. Determining costs, developing a budget, and providing estimates to clients may also be required.
Most fire protection tradespeople require at least a high school diploma or GED, as well as 4 or 5 years in an apprenticeship, or some college-level technical training courses in pipefitting, steamfitting, plumbing, or sprinkler system installation. A trade certification in pipefitting or sprinkler installation is required in several provinces, while it is voluntary in the rest of the country. Red Seal certification is also available under Steamfitter/Pipefitter and Sprinkler System Installer with the completion of the interprovincial exam.
As a highly skilled trade that is also in high demand anywhere there is infrastructure commercial, or residential construction, fire protection tradespeople earn wages starting around $20 per hour. With age and experience, hourly wages can reach up to $45 or more. This makes for a salary range between $39,000 and $140,000 over the course of your career.
Those who work as fire protection tradespeople have a high degree of understanding the needs of people who need to be protected from fire and given warning to evacuate. This means they are very detail oriented, safety-conscious, conscientious, and willing to put in extra effort to be sure that everything is done correctly. They also need to work well in a team, as well as be able to work independently on assigned tasks without requiring constant supervision.
Most work hours will be regular daytime shifts, though some overtime on evenings or weekends may be required in order to complete projects on deadline, fix unexpected problems, or run tests under specific conditions.