President's report - July, 2021

Posted on : Thursday, 29 July 2021

Dear members,


Over the last few years, FPA Australia has worked very hard to deliver for the fire protection industry. 


This has seen us increase our activity in advocacy, accreditation, training, membership, engagement, and communications.  Our goal is to continue to improve and expand these services. 


We have worked closely with a range of stakeholders to reduce regulatory inconsistencies and red tape, all the while expanding community safety and lifting the professionalism and quality of practitioners. 


As a result, your Association is the pre-eminent fire protection organisation in Australia, and a first point of contact for decision-makers. 


At present, we are working on several reform projects that are designed to improve our sector's performance and effectiveness. 


We continue to roll out accreditation in NSW and are revamping training, so that we can deliver the support and skills practitioners are going to need. 


In addition, we are developing guidance materials and running webinars on relevant issues, to keep the membership informed, and to help with a growing need for continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities. 


On the advocacy front: 

  • we regularly contribute to both standards committees and the Australian Building Codes Board's Building Codes Committee;
  • we have recommended changes to the National Construction Code, including the introduction and improvement of residential sprinkler specifications;
  • we collaborate with various government agencies to moderate some of their more extreme regulatory tendencies; and
  • we frequently make submissions on a range of issues, to make the FPA Australia's positions known to regulators. 


Many of the issues we've been dealing with have direct implications for our industry, and our willingness to cooperate and provide counsel has been widely respected and valued, but  it comes at a cost to the Association.  


We currently cover our activities through an array of funding sources, such as membership dues, registration and licensing fees, events, the sale of publications, training charges, and sponsorship. 


As occurs with most industry organisations, membership covers around a quarter of our annual revenue, with the remaining 75% having to come from other sources.  However, largely because of concerns about the impact of Coronavirus restrictions on the profitability of the industry, FPA Australia has not raised its membership fees in this area for over three years, despite costs increasing.   


This means we have to find other ways to bridge the remaining gap in order to keep delivering services to members. 


While we sold our premises in Melbourne some time ago, these funds are meant to be reserves, not to be used to fund ongoing operational costs. 


Such resources give us the ability to make strategic decisions on behalf of the membership.  For example, in NSW we invested around $1.5 million dollars to develop the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS) to the point where it could be recognised in legislation, and then to roll it out effectively.  


The Board made this decision because it felt that industry, not government, should be at the forefront of improving professionalism, and that this was a worthy investment for the future of fire protection. 


The current concerns about the licensing rollout in Queensland suggest that this was the right decision. 


Accreditation in NSW has now largely repaid that investment, but other projects on the books to expand the additional accreditation categories and to deliver training courses for practitioners will need to be funded. 


So, while we are rebuilding our balance sheet and increasing our reserves, there will continue to be pressures on the FPA Australia budget that need to be managed and carefully balanced. 


As we do every year, over the next 12 months the Board and Executive will monitor our operating costs and look to diversify our revenue streams so that we remain viable and ultimately improve the organisation's financial position. 


We are currently in a strong position to withstand any external shocks that may confront us, but we cannot be complacent. 


As members and supporters of FPA Australia, you expect that the Board and staff will respect the responsibility given to us and work tirelessly in the interests of the organisation.  


To the best of our ability, in the environment in which we are currently working, we are doing just that. 


Stay safe! 


William (Bill) Lea, AFSM