Sprinkler fitters create, maintain, inspect and modify new or current sprinkler systems within homes, commercial buildings and other areas sprinkler systems are necessary. In this field, you need strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, as well as an extensive understanding of plumbing codes and regulations. Becoming licensed requires you to complete an apprenticeship program and pass an exam.
Sprinkler fitters are pipe fitters who work specifically in fire protection. These workers install and design overhead sprinkler and hose systems, fire mains, underground systems and underground closed valves. They inspect and test systems, as well as repair defective, worn or broken parts. They may be tasked to perform National Fire Protection Association inspections on buildings or new installations. While most sprinkler fitters are hired by plumbing and heating contractors, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 11 percent of workers were self-employed in 2012.
On a daily basis, the fitter selects pipe sizes and materials, measures and marks pipes for cutting and threading, assembles and secures pipes, tubes and fittings, and turns off heating systems to secure new pipes. They weld and solder pipes to create joints and attach pipes to fixtures. They also layout drawings of full-scale piping systems, and cut and bore holes in pipes, according to blueprints and specifications. These workers also clean and modify current sprinkler systems.
Mechanical, building and construction knowledge are a must to work in this field. The ability to use hand tools and welding and soldering tools is essential to modify pipe. The ability to troubleshoot problems and good physical strength are necessary, as well as the ability to lift and climb with heavy loads. You must also be able to handle heights. Business savvy and strong customer service skills are helpful for independent contractors. Knowledge of practical engineering applications is also helpful.
Education and Training
An apprenticeship program is generally required to break into this field. These programs last from four to five years and include 1,700 to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and 246 hours of technical education. To get an apprenticeship, you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and pass a basic math test. A drug screening and computer know-how is also required. Within an apprenticeship program, you’ll learn about local plumbing codes and National Fire Protection Association requirements, plumbing inspection and blueprint reading. You must also become licensed by completing an apprenticeship and passing an exam.