Update on fire protection during coronavirus shutdown

Posted on : Wednesday, 8 April 2020

As the picture of coronavirus shutdowns across the country has begun to stabilise, Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) is continuing to work with governments across the country to promote the important role of fire protection.


Building on our lobbying to date, we have again written to all relevant ministers to confirm that our industry is considered an essential service.


Despite the overwhelming number of approaches being received by governments, we have had some positive initial responses, in particular from the ACT, NT, Queensland and Tasmania, but are pursuing more concrete advice. It is clear that the issue of 'essential services' is being actively considered nationally, affecting the treatment of different industries at a local level.


We have already been informed that certain work locations are essential, including shopping centres, office buildings, factories, and construction sites, and we also know that other places (e.g. pubs, cafes, hairdressers, playgrounds, etc.) are non-essential and have been closed.


Australians are being advised to stay at home except for essential shopping, health care, exercise, or work, if it cannot be performed remotely.


But this doesn't clarify what happens to those businesses that are not currently on an 'essential' list but have also not been named as 'non-essential'. 

 

We have recommended to ministers that the fire protection industry should be deemed essential, because: 


  • It is carried out in buildings and locations already recognised as essential by the Federal Government; and
  • It provides support to legislated essential services, such as the fire brigades.

 

So what does this mean for your business?


In essence, that you should continue performing your work, whether that's manufacture, design or installation of fire protection systems, routine servicing and assessment or the many other roles that make up our industry.


This will be subject to negotiations with owners or managers of buildings or businesses, as the industry is not able to overrule its clients.


Obviously, any work should be carried out in line with all necessary social distancing rules and personal protections, and businesses should carry out their own risk assessments to ensure it is safe to enter and work in a particular location.


It is important to note, however, that this position is based solely on our interpretation of current government advice, and will be subject to change.


But in the absence of further direction from ministers, it is reasonable to assume that companies carrying out fire protection work are performing a service that is essential for the wellbeing of the community.


FPA Australia will continue to liaise with relevant ministers and their offices and will keep you informed if there are any further changes or updated advice.


Stay up to date on FPA Australia's coronavirus response hub.


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