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ASSE 15000 Certification applies to field technicians who provide inspection, testing, and maintenance for water-based fire protection systems. Before we get too far into the requirements of the certification, it is important to understand where these requirements come from and why. ASSE International continually emphasizes that our certifications are to standards, but not just any standards. ASSE develops, with the help of industry experts, ANSI-accredited professional qualifications standards.
A dozen experts from within the fire protection industry met numerous times, reviewed multiple drafts, and submitted comments for improvements to the standard. These volunteers gave so much time and effort because they recognized a need. Their jobs are to protect the health and safety of you, me, and our families. They felt the need for this additional tool to help fire protection professionals achieve a level of competence beyond the minimum recognized requirements of NFPA 25.
The inspections and tests required by NFPA 25 do not include an evaluation of the fire protection system’s capability to protect the building or its contents. However, NFPA 25 does make it the building owner’s responsibility to evaluate the capability of the fire protection system, including to determine if it can protect the building and/or its contents. A person certified to ASSE 15000 is capable of performing such evaluations. A licensed or certified engineer is crucial to this evaluation process, and some states require a licensed engineer to perform tasks associated with such judgment.
ASSE/IAPMO/ANSI Series 15000, Professional Qualifications Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, was approved as an American National Standard and published in April of 2015. The standard defines the minimum amount of fire sprinkler industry experience a candidate for certification must have. It also defines the number (200) of questions on the written exam and the percentage of questions that come from the NFPA 25, NFPA 13, NFPA 14, and NFPA 20 standards. Additionally, there is a practical exam that tests a candidate’s knowledge of wet, dry, and preaction fire protection systems, along with fire alarm and fire pump systems.
Immediately following publication of the ASSE 15000 standard, a technical committee was formed. The subject matter experts on the technical committee have years of experience in installation, testing, and inspection of all types of fire protection systems. They were also able to contribute to and evaluate the “best practice” elements that were added to the otherwise code-based written exam. They also determined how the practical exam would be administered and scored.
ASSE recognizes that the quality of training is dependent on the training environment and believes that any ASSE-approved training provider should be adequately equipped to train the people in any given training session. The Fire Protection Technical Committee helped to determine the minimum requirements for training providers regarding facilities and equipment. The list of fire sprinkler equipment needs to be approved by ASSE, as being a training provider is extensive. The technical committee, based on their expertise, also determined the minimum experience and certifications required to teach the course and proctor the exam.
The first certification to this standard was issued in August 2017, after a train-the-trainer class offered in Ann Arbor, Mich. Since then, three more train-the-trainer classes have been offered as the instructors who will teach this program around the country first become certified themselves.
Although there are other organizations that certify individuals as being competent in the inspection and testing aspects of NFPA 25, ASSE International developed the ASSE 15000 certification program to raise the bar for fire protection industry personnel and ensure public safety. Individuals who are certified to ASSE 15000 will have the ability to knowledgeably and skillfully inspect, test, and maintain water-based fire protection systems to the satisfaction of the fire protection industry and beyond the minimum requirements of NFPA 25.