Safer Buildings Coalition & National Association of State Fire Marshals Develop Study Guide for New Credentialing Program


Posted on December 21, 2020
By Mikkel P. Schultz, Senior Editor, Safer Buildings Coalition

You’ve heard Safer Buildings Coalition talk about it over the last several months, and now the SBC-NICET (National Institute for Certification in Engineering) In-Building Public Safety Communications Certification Program is almost here – and with it: A comprehensive Study Guide and Reference. SBC is working with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to develop the study guide and drive adoption of the certification program. Once implemented, jurisdictions will require NICET Certification, and this book will help interested parties prepare for and pass the test.

This is a very big deal for the Safer Buildings Coalition, our members, and the industry as a whole. “This is one of the most important projects we have ever undertaken in serving our members which include industry and public safety. The study guide resource and associated training will be vital to ensuring that involved stakeholders acquire a comprehensive understanding of an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES). Furthermore, initial certification is just a starting point; to maintain certification, individuals must strive for continuous self-improvement by enhancing their knowledge, skills and abilities through continuing education and job performance,” SBC Executive Director Chief Alan Perdue says. 

The study guide resource and associated training will be vital to ensuring that involved stakeholders acquire a comprehensive understanding of an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES).

The Safer Buildings Coalition Study Guide will be the definitive In-Building Public Safety Reference – not just for preparing for this certification, but for laying out the key knowledge principles required for competence in the area of In-Building Public Safety Communications Design, Installation, Maintenance, and Inspection. Published as a printed book, the Study Guide will remain in the library of key industry stakeholders for years to come – including architects and engineers, vendors, contractors, AHJs, license holders, and first responders. The book will be available in May 2021, and once available, professionals can start studying for the NICET test to become certified in one of the following categories: Technician (Level 1, 2 or 3) or Designer. Certification requires a combination of testing, skills validation, and work history. The Certification tests will be available from NICET 2Q 2021.

Sponsor the Study Guide
One of the most important pieces of this undertaking is to keep the quality of the Study Guide high and the cost low for users who need this critical reference. That is why the Coalition is accepting very limited Industry Sponsorship of the First Edition of our Study Guide and Reference. This is an opportunity to strongly associate your brand with thought-leadership and education in the area of in-building public safety communications.

Several ad options are available for the Study Guide. 

For more information and to place advertising, please visit: or write to: [email protected].

Key Objectives of the Study Guide

  • Increase industry competence
  • Prepare students for NICET Certification
  • Provide a pathway for workforce development
  • Establish the definitive In-Building Public Safety Reference, covering:
    • RF Fundamentals
    • In-building design and installation core knowledge and best practices
    • Identify requisite skills
    • Code and standards requirements 
  • Level the playing field for contractors
  • Provide AHJs, general contractors, and building owners the ability to identify competent vendors
  • Facilitate common interpretation of codes and standards from jurisdiction to jurisdiction
  • Provide a consistent working model for in-building public safety system collaborative processes

The Team Behind the Study Guide
The Safer Buildings Coalition has put together a strong team to develop the Study Guide, including SBC executive leadership, industry subject matter experts, and representatives from the National Association of State Fire Marshalls and, of course NICET, which is developing the Certification Program & certification tests, sets Pass/Fall criteria and administers and verifies the certifications. 

Phil Ziegler

Phil Ziegler

The book’s principal radio technology author is Philip Ziegler, RF technology expert and pre-eminent in-building curriculum developer. Phil has 35 years of experience in wireless communications that include tactical military systems, the Global Positioning System, and commercial applications.  After graduation from Rutgers University with degrees in EE and Physics, his tenures have included contributions as a member of the technical staff of ITT Avionics and Space Systems Groups, Lucent Technologies – Bell Labs Innovations, and Verizon Wireless.

We asked Phil about the significance of the credentialing program and his approach to writing the guide:

“The planning and deployment of an IB-ERCES requires an understanding of architectural structures, radio frequency propagation, public safety regulations and their impact on one another.  A good IB-ERCES installation facilitates essential communications during on-premises emergencies, while a bad installation could degrade wireless communications throughout the community.  Many P25 networks are being inundated with noise from over-powered systems. This program will focus on problem prevention rather than cure,” he explains.”

One of the most important parts of the program is to ensure its adoption throughout the jurisdictions. It is with that in mind that SBC is partnering with NASFM. NASFM is trusted and respected by Fire Marshals in all 50 states. As such, NASFM is the perfect partner for advocating the program.

“NASFM is pleased to have partnered with SBC on this important project,” Jim Narva, NASFM Executive Director, says. “We fully recognize the importance of consistency in how the codes and standards are applied across multiple jurisdictions. Through NASFM’s State Fire Marshal members we hope to see statewide adoption of these critical NICET certifications.”

NASFM’s expertise is instrumental to ensuring the quality of the Study Guide as well. “We look forward to lending our management experience developing study guides and educational curricula to ensure we produce the best-in-class materials on this topic,” Narva adds.


50 States – One Strong Voice for Fire Prevention

The principal membership of NASFM comprises the senior fire officials in the United States and their top deputies.

About the Safer Buildings Coalition-NICET Program
So, what is this program, and how did it come to be? Earlier this year, NICET and SBC announced a joint effort to develop a new engineering technician certification program for ERCES.  

Chip Hollis, NICET 

Chip Hollis, NICET

“NICET became interested in working with Safer Buildings Coalition after hearing Chief Perdue speak at an NFPA event. It was easy to see how our mission of safety for the public, the workforce and emergency responders align with SBC’s mission. NICET takes great care in developing fair, valid, reliable, and legally defensible certification programs. In-Building Public Safety Communication certification will measure individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities against an industry-set minimum standard. The program defines career paths for engineering technicians engaged in the detailing and layout, installation and maintenance, and designing of these enhancement systems. Certification and independent training go hand-in-hand in developing and maintaining a qualified workforce. SBC’s study guide and industry expertise paired with NICET certification will play a key role ensuring first responder communications work,” Chip Hollis, NICET Senior Director, Credentials and Administration, states.

“When first responders work inside buildings, they expect and quite frankly, deserve to have a system that works properly as their lives depend on it. Because of ERCES importance, the Coalition identified the need for a national certification program to address the competency of those individuals who design, install, and maintain an ERCES,” Chief Perdue adds.

“With almost 40 years in the Fire Service, I've seen the positive difference credentialing programs for fire sprinklers and fire alarms has made to building owners, code officials and the industry that provides these systems,” the Chief notes. “With this joint NICET-Safer Buildings Coalition program we aim to bring that same level of quality, professionalism and consistency to communication enhancement system design, installation and inspections to ensure these systems are safe, effective, and compliant to fire code and FCC regulations.”

Why is this program needed?
The in-building public safety industry will benefit from clear, uniform standards and credentialing requirements. AHJs need clarity about which vendors employ experienced, competent staff; end users need dependable vendors they can trust; employers need to professionally develop their workforce; and employees want access to career advancement and proper training

The SBC-NICET program will help achieve all of that.

“As I have stated many times, critical life safety system related work has no place for those ‘Chuck and a Truck Trying to Make a Quick Buck’ mindset individuals or companies. A company or industry that invests in professionally training its workforce is a company that sets itself up for success. Better training means better processes. When processes work well, they can significantly improve efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. Our goal is to make sure anyone designing, installing, or maintaining an ERCES anywhere does it right the first time and every time. Why is that goal so important… because the lives of our Fire, Law Enforcement and EMS responders depend on it!” Chief Perdue notes. 

The SBC-NICET program, including the certification test and study guide currently in production, will help bring much-needed uniform standards for competency to the industry.

Stay tuned for much more information over the coming months. In the meantime: Become a sponsor. Get your name in the book. Be part of the solution.

Related Article: Meet the Early Advertisers & Sponsors of the SBC-NICET Program Study Guide