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A fire protection technician helps business owners and private citizens become better prepared for fire emergencies. Professionals design and install smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, extinguishers, fire-resistant insulation, and other protective and preventive equipment. They also provide public education and training to teach others about proper emergency protocol and how to get themselves out of dangerous situations. Most fire protection technicians work for municipal government organizations or local fire stations, though some are employed by nonprofit groups or private retail companies.
The duties of a fire protection technician can vary from day to day. A technician might visit a construction site and work alongside inspectors to identify potential fire dangers and advise site supervisors on the best ways to prevent them. He or she can explain local or regional fire codes and why they are important to follow. Many technicians work with computer drafting programs to analyze building blueprints and map out the most appropriate places to install sprinklers and smoke alarms. They may even perform installations themselves to make sure systems are reliable and operating correctly.
When home or business owners decide to renovate their safety systems, they often consult with a fire protection technician. A professional can tour a facility, identify hazards, and make suggestions about how to fix them. In addition, a technician might organize public safety events at schools or community centers to inform the public about fire dangers, proper use of extinguishers, and the importance of checking smoke alarms regularly.
Many fire protection technicians are also trained firefighters. They can help out in emergency situations to extinguish flames and bring people to safety. After a fire occurs, a technician often returns to the scene to survey the damage and investigate what happened. He or she notes hazards and malfunctioning safety equipment to provide to detectives. In some cases, a fire protection technician may be asked to provide expert testimony in court following a suspected arson act.
The requirements to work as a fire protection technician can vary by region. Most technicians hold associate's degrees or certificates from accredited two-year fire science programs at community colleges. A prospective technician may also need to pass written or physical exams at fire stations before he or she can start the job. New workers typically spend several months in on-the-job training under experienced technicians to perfect their skills. A person who is caring, hardworking, and responsible can enjoy a long, rewarding career in the field.