By Chief Alan Perdue (Ret.), CFO, FM,
Executive Director – Safer Buildings Coalition
While preparing for some Safer Buildings Coalition (SBC) activities and annual meeting to be held at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas, NV, I began to think about the relationship between Vegas and the new NICET In-Building Public Safety Communications Certification Program we have been working on for a while. Now I am sure you are thinking, what in the world does an event in Las Vegas and a certification program for those designing, installing, and maintaining In-Building Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems (ERCES) have in common. Well, if you let your mind take a little journey with me, more than you think. To help get the point across about the importance of obtaining a professional certification in the field of in-building communications let us look at a popular television show set in Las Vegas titled “Pawn Stars”.
On the television show Pawn Stars, they run across many interesting items of various origins, shapes, and sizes. Often, people bringing these items to the shop feel they truly have something of significant value only to find out at times that their item is an ordinary common one that is of no real value because they are just like many others in existence. In other words, there is nothing unique that sets them apart. However, every now and then an item is brought into the shop that is quite unique or extremely rare. It stands out above the rest. Why? Because it is unique, may have a certificate of authenticity, be part of a numbered series or have some other form of written documentation that enhances its value. Because of that, people recognize it, want it and are willing to pay for it.
Think about it, when you have opportunities to be selected to perform work related to the design, installation, and maintenance of an ERCES be it by a building owner or an authority having jurisdiction who decides who can do work in their jurisdiction or others ask yourself, do you have what it takes to set you apart from others?
Employers and business owners must also think about the team they are building, is it the best it can be? There is a quote by Peter Baeklund that is floating around the business world that captures the fundamental nature of the concept of professional development. It says:
“A CFO asks a CEO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?
The CEO responds: What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
When companies and organizations invest into the growth and development of their employees, they are sending a strong message that they are valued and important. And is not a company or organization just a sum of its members. Competency and professional growth lead to a more effective and efficient organization.
As individuals, all of us come from various origins and in many shapes and sizes just like those items brought into the pawn shop. Our past decisions and experiences are the basis for determining our value by those looking to make decisions. Just like the items at the pawn shop that needed proof of authenticity, we too must have the necessary documentation that sets us apart from the competition. That documentation illustrates not only what we have done but provides a roadmap as to what our future capabilities are.
If you think about it, many professions are required to have professional credentials or certifications such as physicians, educators, engineers, lawyers, etc. who perform professional work in their related field. Are the individuals providing design, installation, and maintenance of an ERCES not performing critical professional work as well or at least should not they be… The fact is, ERCES are vital components of the life safety eco system of a building and more importantly to the wellbeing of the public and public safety responders. Based on the critical nature of the work being performed, industry standards should require adequate workforce development and certification.
When you think of your personal value or what is commonly referred to as your market value, it is important to understand that the ERCES world and profession is complex and constantly changing. It is not a simple plug and play world, its one where it is important to understand many complex concepts to successfully deploy an ERCES. To be successful in attaining that next project or permission to work in a specific jurisdiction it will be incumbent upon you to take a serious look at your professional development plan. That plan should include both experience and certifications. The time is now for evaluating your personal plan. Ask yourself, do you have what it takes to set you apart? Does it include a process for obtaining professional certification(s) in your field of practice such as the design and technician levels contained within the NICET In-Building Public Safety Communication program?
Ask yourself this simple question: if someone took you up to the counter at Pawn Stars, would Rick say, “I don’t have one of those and I’ve got to have it” or would he say, “I don’t think so, thanks anyway”. Well in simple terms, that is what is really taking place when you compete for projects. It is imperative that you take action to set yourself apart from the competition. With the amount of technology that is available to us today, the ability to enhance our knowledge base is limitless. With all the buzz about the “I” devices these days, use the iPad® acronym to remind yourself of this, I am Personally Accountable for my Destiny… In other words, Do What It Takes and Do It Now!
About the Author: Chief Perdue has over 40 years of service in public safety related experience retiring as Guilford County Emergency Services Director/Chief in 2013. He is credentialed as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) and Fire Marshal (FM) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence Commission for Professional Credentialing. In addition to serving as the Executive Director of the Safer Buildings Coalition, Chief Perdue currently serves on the NFPA 1225 Technical Committee, International Accreditation Services Technical Advisory Council for Regulatory Code Programs, Underwriters Laboratories Standard #2524 Standards Technical Panel, and the National Association of Counties Telecommunications & Technology Steering Committee. He is also an Elected County Commissioner in Guilford County, NC.