Four industry leaders have provided funding to develop a four-year distance learning apprenticeship program for fire/life safety technicians and low-voltage technicians.

The unilateral apprenticeship and training committee of theWestern Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA UATC), Marina Del Rey, Calif., is developing the program to deliver online education to apprentices enrolled in its statewide, state-approved apprenticeship and training program.

The distance learning program will be a four-year program based on the curriculum developed by an industry consortium for electronic system technicians. The WBFAA UATC will administer and manage the program in California, and the training will be offered nationally by the National Training School (NTS) of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Irving, Texas.

NTS plans to offer the curriculum to support apprenticeship training programs throughout the United States and independent training courses. After more than four years of development, the WBFAA UATC and NBFAA needed $150,000 to develop and complete the distance learning component, which eventually will include more than 600 hours of training.

The funds were advanced by four industry leaders who have a personal and professional commitment to training and education. Donors were WBFAA UATC chairman George Gunning of USA Alarm Systems, Monrovia, Calif., along with WBFAA UATC board members Douglas Shackley of Pacific Auxiliary Fire Alarm, San Francisco, and Ron Dalton of ADT Security Services, Torrance, Calif.

The balance of funding was provided by Jim Hardie, chairman of PROTECT Security Systems of America, Malibu, Calif., distributor of the Smoke Cannon burglary prevention product.

“I appreciate the vision of Jim Hardie, Doug Shackley and Ron Dalton and their willingness to join me to get this program underway,” said Gunning, who also is vice president/president-elect of the NBFAA. “Consistent and comprehensive training for technicians will enable our industry to grow with a demonstrable increase in professionalism. It is their personal commitment to training and willingness to fund this project that has made this significant step forward possible for our industry.”

The WBFAA UATC was established jointly by the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association and the California Alarm Association to develop a statewide, state-approved apprenticeship program for fire/life aafety technicians.

The program received state approval in 2004, and more than 1,000 technicians currently are enrolled in it for apprenticeship training and electrical certification support.

“The apprenticeship model allows us an opportunity to establish a profession and a career path for the best and brightest technicians,” said Gunning. “We have been fortunate to have the support of our industry throughout the development of this program, and now this funding will make it available to our industry throughout the United States.”

The distance learning program in California will need to be approved by the State of California with a target of making it available to students in the spring of 2006. The training will cover alarm and wiring basics as well as IP systems, CCTV and access control technologies. For information on the WBFAA UATC program, visit or call (800) 809-0280.

The NBFAA’s NTS will be developing programs and curricula to offer the program nationwide. For information on the NBFAA and NTS, visit or call (888) 447-1689.