Empowering Fire Safety: CFAA’s Legacy and Vision for Excellence
What is Canadian Fire Alarm Association? How does it help fire alarm technicians?
The Canadian Fire Alarm Association (CFAA) is a not-for-profit organization established in 1973 by a group of dedicated fire alarm industry experts. Now representing more than 400 member organizations with nine Chapters across Canada, our mission is “to maximize the effectiveness and use of fire alarm systems in the protection of life and property in Canada”. The CFAA offers education and training programs to more than 3500 Registered Fire Alarm Technicians and Trainees, in addition to other industry stakeholders.
CFAA’s vision is to be the definitive national resource for fire alarm related information, education, qualifications, expertise with active chapters across Canada. CFAA offers the Fire Alarm Technology Education Program to train individuals to become fire alarm technicians. In addition, we have over 18 public and private career colleges across Canada that we partner with to offer fire alarm training. Once our program is successfully completed, the individual applies to become a CFAA Registered Fire Alarm Technician and is qualified to verify, inspect, test, and maintain fire alarm systems. CFAA also requires Continuing Education for technicians so that they remain up-to-date on new requirements, technologies, and best practices in performing their work. CFAA is the only Canadian national body to certify/ register fire alarm technicians.
Does CFAA have separate training course for the fire alarm technician, is the authorized by the government, What is the basic qualification for joining the program? will CFAA provide any placement?
CFAA’s Fire Alarm Technology Program was created over 40 years ago and we continue to update it to ensure it reflects the latest requirements, technologies, and best practices. Our program is approved by various provincial and local authorities across Canada to qualify personnel to perform work on fire alarm systems in buildings. The basic qualification to join the CFAA Fire Alarm Technology Program is a high school diploma. CFAA does not provide placement of new fire alarm technicians, though we do have a job board on our website that offers many opportunities for new technicians. We currently have a shortage of fire alarm technicians across Canada, so their skills are in high demand.
What advice would you give to the homeowners and building owners to take care of their property?
Homeowners should be aware that more than 70% of all fires occur in single- or two-family homes. When a fire occurs in a home, statistics tell us that approx. 40% of these homes did not have a working smoke alarm when the fire occurred. In single- or two-family dwellings, the homeowner is responsible to maintain their smoke and CO alarms. Multi-unit residential buildings (more commonly known as apartments and condo buildings) also have similar residential fire risks (e.g. cooking fires, smoking, etc.) though it is important to note that in most cases the building owner must install and maintain a fire alarm system to ensure the safety of occupants and reduce property damage in the event of a fire (depending on its date of construction) may have added fire safety features and equipment (e.g. sprinklers, fire doors, strobes, heat detectors, fire separation walls, smoke control systems, backup power generators, emergency lighting, alarm system monitoring, mass notification systems, etc.). It is important that homeowners maintain and test their smoke alarms to ensure they are functioning properly. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and replaced every 10 years. Batteries should be replaced at least twice per year. The installation date sticker should appear on the smoke alarm enclosure and if it is missing and you do not know the installation date then replace them for safety. Smoke alarms should be installed on each floor of the home and in all sleeping areas/bedrooms. If the home has any gas-fired appliances (e.g., gas stove, gas fireplace, gas furnace, etc.) then all alarms should be combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. There are new interconnected alarms that will sound when one device detects smoke to all alarms in the home.
In multi-unit residential buildings like apartments, the landlord is typically responsible to ensure that all smoke and CO alarms are in good working order. In condos it is the responsibility building owner/property manager or homeowner to maintain the smoke alarms. The resident should also maintain and test their alarms regularly because they are typically NOT connected to the fire alarm system and therefore may not be tested by the fire alarm service company. There are other fire protection and life safety devices connected within the building that are connected to the fire alarm system to help protect occupants from injury or death in the event of a fire and help to reduce property damage.
Our mission is “to maximize the effectiveness and use of fire alarm systems in the protection of life and property in Canada”
Please share the inception and success story of the association?
The Canadian Fire Alarm Association is celebrating its fiftieth (50) anniversary this year. Founded in 1973, CFAA was incorporated nationally as a Not-For-Profit Corporation on November 25 th, 1977. The Association began as a manufacturers’ association. Over the years it grew and developed. Much work has been done by the founding members in promoting the effective use of fire alarm systems across Canada. There were also efforts to establish and influence industry standards, and to develop and deliver education programs aimed at helping installers and service technicians become competent and knowledgeable to help improve the quality, effectiveness, and reliability of fire alarm systems.
The CFAA developed its Fire Alarm Technology Program more than 40 years ago and connected with Canadian colleges across Canada to expand its availability. CFAA Registered Fire Alarm Technicians are recognized by many Provincial and local jurisdictions as competent to perform work on fire alarm systems in buildings.
In 1998 Manitoba was the first jurisdiction that enacted legislation. Ontario legislation, which took effect in 1999, brought the CFAA to a turning point in terms of its growth and its influence throughout the province, and in fact in other parts of Canada. Since that time, the number of CFAA Registered Fire Alarm Technicians has grown to over 3,500. The number of CFAA Members has grown more than 400 organizations.
Historically, the majority of CFAA activity and influence was in Ontario. The National Board of Directors for many years has valiantly sought out industry champions in other Canadian cities and provinces to establish Chapters and to promote the CFAA locally in other parts of Canada. The CFAA National Board of Directors, combined with the emergence of “critical masses” of local interest in pursuing CFAA goals resulted in new Chapters forming in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. CFAA currently has nine Chapters across Canada, with the newest Chapter being the Atlantic Canada Chapter which was established in 2020 representing New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
“We have over 18 public and private career colleges across Canada that we partner with to offer fire alarm training”
Does CFAA organize special training session for technicians & members on adapting the new technologies?
Yes, we offer continuing education training sessions for our technicians, members and other stakeholders in the fire protection and life safety community such as Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), building owners, property managers, engineering firms, insurance companies, etc, CFAA Fire Alarm Technicians must take continuing education training each year in order to maintain their registration.
Please share our readers about the leader of the association and its board members who is working towards serving the nation in safety?
Suzanne Alfano is currently the Executive Director with the Canadian Fire Alarm Association (CFAA), joining the team in January 2020. Trained in electrical/electronic engineering along with a Master in Business Administration degree, she has a unique 30+ years’ experience in Association management. She has worked for various Associations in Canada and the USA in inspection, technical project/ program management, consulting, and leadership roles. Suzanne has a passion for safety and a steadfast commitment to improving and promoting the use and harmonization of Codes and Standards in the fields of fire and life safety, electrical product safety, energy, efficiency and renewable energy technologies during her career. Her experience includes advocating for legislative and regulatory requirements that support industry and public safety.
CFAA also supported by a large Board of Directors and dedicated staff, which greatly contributes to the success of the Association. The Board members include 36 Directors from across Canada that have expertise in fire protection and life safety. For a list of the current Board members visit the CFAA website at (www.cfaa.ca). CFAA’s National Board Directors, Chapter Boards and Committee Members are volunteers that commit countless hours and are dedicated to improving our industry. I feel privileged to work with such a talented and outstanding group of people.
“Helping Fire Professionals keep Canadians Safer”