Sprinkler Fitter Job Description
Sprinkler fitters are plumbing professionals who install, modify, and inspect sprinkler systems. Individuals with a strong interest in plumbing, fire prevention, and problem-solving will be attracted to this field. Most sprinkler fitters are employed by plumbing companies, but an estimated 11 percent work as independent contractors. Sprinkler fitters are usually considered entry-level employees, but advancement opportunities may be available to some.
Sprinkler Fitter Duties and Responsibilities
The tasks carried out by sprinkler fitters vary from employer to employer, but there are certain duties that virtually all sprinkler fitters are expected to complete. Some of the most frequently performed tasks include:
Install Sprinkler and Hose Systems
Sprinkler and hose systems are complex, and a great deal of technical knowledge is required to install and update them correctly. Sprinkler fitters are often called to install sprinklers and other fire-prevention plumbing fixtures after the construction of a new building. If the systems need updating in the future, it will be the sprinkler fitter’s job to do so.
Repair Defective Sprinkler Systems
As time progresses, sprinkler systems are subject to age and wear and tear. This is normal, but if they are not replaced or repaired in a timely manner, they will not be able to perform their most important function. Sprinkler fitters are often tasked with repairing and replacing defective and outdated sprinkler systems.
Pipes, tubes, and other types of fittings carry water to and from sprinkler systems. However, the pipes and fittings used on one system will not necessarily work on another. It is the job of the sprinkler fitter to solder and weld custom pipes and fittings designed to work for specific sprinkler systems.
Test Sprinkler Systems
As previously mentioned, sprinkler systems can fall victim to age and wear. For this reason, they must be tested regularly to ensure they are fully functional according to state and local regulations. Sprinkler fitters are often tasked with testing these systems and reporting the outcomes to state or local authorities.
Educate the Public
Sprinkler fitters are often tasked with educating the public about the importance of fire prevention and having a functional sprinkler system. They may speak at conferences and work with community and school leaders to educate professionals and younger audiences.
Sprinkler Fitter Skills and Qualifications
The skills needed to become a sprinkler fitter vary from company to company; however, there are certain qualifications all sprinkler fitters must have. In general, a college degree is not required, but employers do look for candidates who possess the following abilities and traits:
- Plumbing knowledge – sprinkler system fitters must have extensive plumbing knowledge to perform their jobs. They should be capable of interpreting system blueprints and fitting pipes to meet the needs of various sprinkler systems
- Understanding of fire prevention techniques – sprinkler system fitters must have a firm understanding of fire prevention. When inspecting a system, they must evaluate whether it is capable of preventing a fire and saving lives
- Basic engineering knowledge – professionals in this field do not need a degree in engineering, but basic knowledge can be helpful. Installing and updating sprinklers and other fire-prevention systems often requires basic engineering knowledge
- Attention to detail – sprinkler fitters are often required to inspect vast systems and follow blueprints exactly. To do this, they must have a keen eye for detail, and they should be committed to never overlooking important information
- Organization skills – individuals in the sprinkler-fitting industry are often tasked with inspecting multiple systems a day and compiling large amounts of information. They must keep this information organized and filed efficiently
Sprinkler Fitter Education and Training
To become a sprinkler fitter, most individuals need at least a high school diploma (or its equivalent) and an understanding of basic math. Sprinkler fitters must enroll in an apprenticeship program, which usually allows them to obtain thousands of hours of paid training. During the program, prospective fitters shadow and learn from more experienced individuals in the field, and there is usually a classroom component involved. During this time, sprinkler fitters learn about fire prevention, plumbing codes, and elementary engineering concepts. Once the apprenticeship is done, rising sprinkler fitters must take an exam before they are issued a license.
Sprinkler Fitter Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is $52,590. The top 10 percent of workers earn more than $91,810 each year, while those in the bottom 10 percent earn less than $31,470 a year. Established sprinkler fitters often receive benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, and paid vacation time.
By 2026, the employment rate for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is expected to rise 16 percent. This is a massive increase, especially when compared to the national average of 7 percent for all professions. As the rate of new construction surges and current sprinkler systems age, there will be a much greater need for individuals in this profession.
Is a career as a sprinkler fitter right for you? Let the following resources help you make the right professional decision:
American Fire Sprinkler Association – the AFSA is an organization dedicated to educating the public about fire prevention and safety. The association places a significant amount of emphasis on the importance of sprinkler systems, and its website offers information about the organization’s events, membership requirements, and educational resources
Fire Protection, Detection, and Suppression Systems – published in 2016 by the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), this book is a must-read for anyone interested in becoming a sprinkler fitter. The text addresses important fire-prevention topics and discusses how various devices, including sprinklers, can be used to stop fires and save lives in the early stages of a disaster
Fire Investigator – an interesting read for anyone with a desire to understand the nature of fires and how to prevent them, Fire Investigator approaches fires from an analytical and scientific perspective. Also published by IFSTA, the book covers topics related to the investigative process and fire pattern analysis
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