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CEO's Report June, 2022

Posted on : Friday, 17 June 2022

Dear members,

 

The NFPA Conference was held from 6-8 June in Boston, Massachusetts, and it was a great privilege for Leigh Gesthuizen and me to have represented FPA Australia at this major international event.  

 

What struck me most was how much the Australian and US industries have in common. 

 

Despite a huge ocean separating us, we have many of the same challenges and opportunities: 

 

  • an ageing workforce;
  • a lack of available trainers;
  • inadequate gender diversity;
  • the need for better product certification;
  • regulations and standards lagging behind innovation;
  • emerging new risks, such as Lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles;
  • the need to manage the cost implications and environmental risks of fire protection;
  • new technologies and processes that make fire protection and training easier and more effective; and
  • recognition of the pivotal role played by sprinklers in the protection of commercial and residential buildings. 

 

That last point is of particular importance. 

 

A lot of the research underpinning our technical specifications and our approach to standards is carried out overseas, and FPA Australia and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Australia (HFSCA) use these findings to advocate for residential sprinklers. 

 

And often the test videos are powerful evidence of the dangers of fire and the effectiveness of fire systems. 

 

The Conference also provided us with a unique opportunity for FPA Australia to re-establish important relationships with key industry partners, and to pursue mutual goals in fire safety and protection, following two years of pandemic restrictions. 

 

Other key highlights of the visit included meetings with senior management at NFPA, UL Safety and Uptick; inspection of the Viking Group's immersive and practical training, R&D, and manufacturing facility at Grand Rapids, collaboration with the local US based Home Fire Sprinkler (HFS) Coalition team; and Leigh's subsequent presentation to the International Fire Suppression Alliance (IFSA) Board on our local own HFS program, which secured further funding for this important work in the year ahead. 

 

As COVID showed, teleconferencing has its role to play … but it is no substitute for personal engagement in developing collaborative relationships and partnerships with like-minded organisations. 

 

And it's comforting to know that we can work together to solve our common problems. 

 

All the best!

 

JK Sig2

 

 

John Kilgour
CEO