NICET has announced its transition date to new codes for the Fire Alarm Systems (FAS) exam. NICET will begin using newer editions of the codes permitted into the exam starting March 25, 2024.
|Fire Alarm Systems Level I
|NFPA 72 – 2022, NFPA 70 – 2020, Ugly’s Electrical – 2020
|Fire Alarm Systems Level II
|NFPA 72 – 2022, NFPA 70 – 2020, IBC – 2021
|Fire Alarm Systems Level III
|NFPA 72 – 2022, NFPA 70 – 2020, IBC – 2021, NFPA 101 – 2021
|Fire Alarm Systems Level IV
|NFPA 72 – 2022, NFPA 70 – 2020, IBC – 2021, NASCLA – 13th Edition
NICET test takers have a decision to make about what references they need based on when they plan to take the exam:
- If you plan to test BEFORE the transition, the current references (NFPA 72 – 2016, NFPA 70 – 2014, IBC – 2015, NFPA 101 -2015) would be applicable.
- If you plan to test AFTER the transition, the newer references (NFPA 72 – 2022, NFPA 70 – 2020, IBC – 2021, NFPA 101 – 2021) would be applicable.
NTC training and materials focus on exam strategies rather than specific editions of the code. The same strategies that apply to the current codes allowed into the exam will also apply to the newer codes. An important part of NTC’s exam strategy is navigation skills. Identifying the keyword(s) in an exam question allows the test taker to quickly identify the proper reference to find the answer and then use navigation skills to find the correct answer. While developing navigation skills takes time and practice, the skills will easily transfer to new codes when the transition occurs.
Additionally, NICET has indicated that electronic (PDF) copies of NFPA codes (NFPA 72, NFPA 70, and NFPA 101) will be available for the exam. However, the IBC is NOT available in the exam as a PDF and requires a hard copy to be brought to the exam for Levels II, III, and IV.
While having a searchable PDF of some of the codes permitted into the exam could be an advantage, it also increases the chances that a test taker will spend too much time looking for answers by using broad keywords. For example, looking up “smoke detector” in the index of NFPA 72 will give about twenty reference locations, all grouped for easy identification of the best locations to check. However, searching “smoke detector” in the PDF brings up over 400 references throughout the code. If keyword searches are used in a PDF, a more accurate and narrow keyword selection is required than if searched in the code’s index.
Using PDFs in the exam can be helpful to test takers with sufficient practice and discipline. If the physical copy and PDF are used in the exam, the test taker must make quick decisions on the reference for the question. The test taker must also learn to navigate the selected reference to the answer’s location most effectively. Developing these skills requires practice with navigating the PDF. However, NFPA does not offer PDF versions of NFPA 72 – 2022, NFPA 70 – 2020, or NFPA 101 – 2021. NFPA only offers access to these codes through their NFPA LiNK subscription program. Within NFPA LiNK, the codes are searchable, similar to a PDF.
Physical codes have the advantage of being tabbed and highlighted, which is permitted by NICET’s exam policies. The activity of tabbing and highlighting the codes helps to provide additional familiarity with the codes. Additionally, tabbed and highlighted references can be used to quickly navigate to answers once this familiarity is achieved. The ability to tab and highlight codes before the exam is not something that the PDFs supplied by NICET support.
Considering the significant investment of time and money required to prepare for and pass the NICET exam, the test taker should evaluate their reference options before beginning exam preparation or scheduling an exam. Money saved by using NICET’s PDFs rather than purchasing physical codes could easily be nullified by the time and money lost if the exam is failed.
Details of the transition and the permitted references are available here on NICET’s website.
To assist our customers in understanding what has changed in the transition from older to newer codes, NTC is pleased to offer a review of code changes white paper on our website. This document highlights key code changes from the code editions NICET currently tests on to the newer editions they will begin testing on March 25. The document is available for download here.