President's Report - 31 July, 2020

Posted on : Friday, 31 July 2020

Dear members,

 

In my role as President, I have the opportunity to meet and interact with the many and varied stakeholders that make up the fire protection industry.  

One subject that is constantly raised is the area of qualifications, particularly in relation to licensing or accreditation. 

In many cases, the decision by regulators to license or accredit practitioners comes down to political preference rather than strong evidence.  

Practitioners who argue in favour of one or other approach often do so based on their own experience, rather than an assessment of the needs of the industry and identifying the best way forward.  

In Queensland, the QBCC has had licensing for some time and, while locals are used to it, there are often concerns raised about the quality of licensee and the apparent lack of enforcement action by the regulator.  

Victoria has recently taken a leaf out of the Queensland book, with a move to create restricted plumbing classes for water-based fire protection work.  

Most recently, NSW has taken a different path, where practitioners who undertake the design or annual performance assessment of fire safety measures must be accredited and ultimately qualified under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS).  

These different approaches certainly create confusion and frustration, which are a consequence of a federated political system, but it does stimulate some thinking about how the industry should approach the appropriate qualification and registration of fire safety practitioners.  

FPA Australia believes that accreditation under a co-regulatory model is the most appropriate approach, because it gives the sector an opportunity to shape its own future and emphasises our commitment to professionalising the industry.  

Notably, the focus of FPAS is on the sector taking personal accountability for its work.  

We have long been concerned about individuals operating in the fire industry without holding formally recognised qualifications or committing to a code of professional conduct.  

Our 2020 Vision (which may be renamed slightly, due to Covid-19) will see that those who have commenced the journey towards qualified accreditation are recognised as a provider of choice.  

We will continue to advocate for FPAS, not only in NSW but in areas or jurisdictions where licensing or accreditation does not yet exist.  

FPAS is a very flexible pathway for practitioners to move towards becoming suitably qualified and professional. 

It seeks to deliver a workforce that values learning and development and stands by its efforts. 

The ultimate goal is a safer community and a more sustainable fire protection industry.  

Stay safe! 

William (Bill) Lea, AFSM
President