I003S_WA-Meeting

RECAP: NFIA WA Members Meeting

I003_WA-Meeting
Message From Adrian Shackleton

This week our National President, Andrew Hickman and I spent most the week visiting our WA Members. It felt great to walk through many Members’ business operations, and hear from them face to face about what’s happening on the ground in WA.

The consistent theme is a severe skills and labour shortage, busy programs of work, and supply chain pressures. It was evident that the challenge to meet contractual commitments due to not having enough people, coupled with a lack of confidence in future work and uncertainty over head contractor stability, is putting extreme stress and pressure on Members.

All agreed that while COVID-19 turned the world on its head, the emerging picture is a different business environment with unexpected challenges most believed would be here for some time to come. The pipeline of work, while not certain, was full for most Members with expectations that next year would see even more increased activity. WA has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and it is this, combined with the mass exodus of workers during COVID-19 who have failed to return, that is contributing to the labour shortage problem.

Wednesday saw a well-attended WA Members’ meeting at Cbus offices. James from Cbus updated Members on the latest superannuation reforms and Travis from Victaulic provided a comprehensive presentation on their latest UMC valve. Valve discussions soon led to a friendly debate over valve compartment requirements, and it wasn’t long before Australian Standards clauses were being thrown around the room. It was great to see Members able to engage in person on technical matters. NFIA Members’ meeting are the perfect conduit for Member discussions on a range of matters and I encourage Members to get along to the many NFIA Members’ Meetings being run in your state.

I was also able to meet with the WA Construction Training Fund to discuss opportunities to have fire protection post trade courses added to their subsidised training list. The visit gave our National President and I the opportunity to see firsthand the situation in WA and I have come away with a range of action items for the NFIA to work on to assist our WA Members. Thanks to all the Member companies who generously and freely gave up their valuable time to meet with Andrew and I.

In other news, the QLD Ministerial Construction Council (MCC) subcommittee which I Chair has finalised its report into the Review of the Fire Protection Regulatory Framework. This review fulfills the Government’s election commitment to progress a review into the fire protection regulatory framework through the MCC to address the non-rectification of defective fire protection systems.

The Subcommittee’s work is to consider the following issues raised by industry and make recommendations to the MCC about how to address the matters:

  • The number of reported defects arising from routine maintenance inspections of prescribed fire safety installations in buildings.
  • The level of compliance of building occupiers in rectifying defects identified during maintenance inspections.
  • Other matters relating to fire protection as referred to in the scope section of this document.

The report is being progressed through final sub-committee approval and the NFIA is proud to have led this extremely important work for our Members and industry.

I006_SA Meeting

RECAP: NFIA SA Members Meeting

SA Visit & Members' Meeting

On the 12th and 13th of July 2022, Graeme Geldart, NFIA Corporate Team Leader – NSW, visited Adelaide to meet with South Australian Members and to facilitate the SA Members’ Meeting.

Graeme took the opportunity to meet with a number of Members and make contact with some prospective Members, prior to assisting in convening the first face-to-face post-COVID SA Members’ Meeting, hosted by Shayne Bennett.

Members were provided with an update on the operations and activities of the NFIA, the new NFIA website, new NFIA resources, and recent NFIA Submissions. Lucas Blyth, CEO of Fire Industry Training (FiT), provided an update on FiT activites including the Cert II roll-out, new entrants, distance learning capabilities, tutorials and e-learning. David Parish, of NFIA Premier Partners, Victaulic, then gave a presentation and Q&A on Victaulic’s Fire Lock Systems.

John Callea, Manager of Professional & Advisory Services – Government Services Division of the Department of Industry and Training (DIT), provided a presentation on procurement levels for Government projects, the tender and delivery processes, becoming a pre-qualified sub-contractor, the tier system for construction contracts, and ‘importance levels’. An interactive Q&A session was then held, with Shayne Bennett and John Callea addressing the recent developments regarding ‘rise and fall’ in Government contracts, and the Government’s acceptance of proposals advocated by the Specialist Contractors Association. These significant changes are addressed further in this Update (below).

Members also discussed whether there was a need for dry fire licensing in South Australia, and what this might look like. The NFIA will continue to consult with Members on this issue, and Members are always invited to contact the NFIA to put their views forward. Moving forward, the NFIA will look towards surveying Members to obtain views, so that it can advocate effectively for its Members. In later discussions, it was also mentioned that FiT could contribute to this process in terms of what training could be made available for SA if dry fire licences (with underpinning minimum qualifications) were introduced.

Members were also asked to consider and advise on the types of events they may wish the NFIA to arrange in the future, such as social events (e.g. Golf Days, dinners/lunches), technical presentations, and interactive specialist or Government presentations and Q&As.

On the issue of the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and Telstra entering into an agreement whereby Telstra would supply, install and maintain Alarm Signalling Equipment (ASE) and associated dual mobile network connection to the MFS (‘Monitored Fire Alarm Service’ – MFAS), it was noted that this had not progressed. Members had followed Telstra’s pre-requirements but have heard no further. The NFIA will follow up and seek advice on progress and delays.

On the matter of training, it was noted that there’s currently no facility for regional areas to obtain much-needed training, and that internet access (for online training) could also be difficult. The NFIA will raise this issue with FiT and report-back.

In further discussions, Members were encouraged to diligently review subcontractor quotes put to them to ensure that they have quoted to the standards.

The next SA Members’ Meeting is scheduled to be held on 28 October 2022.

I017S_NSW-members-meeting

RECAP: NFIA NSW Members Meeting

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On the 26th, 27th and 28th of July 2022, Adrian Shackleton, NFIA CEO, travelled to Sydney to join Graeme Geldart, NFIA NSW Corporate Leader, to meet with New South Wales Members and to facilitate the NSW Members’ Meeting.

Adrian and Graeme took the opportunity to meet with a number of NSW Members and make contact with prospective members, prior to convening the first face-to-face post-COVID NSW Members’ Meeting.

Issues raised and discussed during those visits to Members included:

  • the availability of post-trade training;
  • Diploma in Fire System Design and FPAS;
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL);
  • contracts, pricing and supply;
  • the EBA process;
  • staff retention and recruitment;
  • licensing and prevention of ‘cowboys’ operating in the Fire Protection space; and
  • using the NFIA as a means to network and link with others in the Fire Protection industry.

At the well-attended Members’ Meeting, Members were provided with an update on the operations and activities of the NFIA, the new NFIA website, new NFIA resources, and recent NFIA national and inter-state developments.

Gordon Stalley provided the meeting with an excellent run down on recent legislative updates and developments affecting Fire Protection work in NSW, including:

  • Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (July 2017)
  • Building & Development Certifiers Act 2018
  • Building & Development Certifiers Regulation 2020
  • Design & Building Practitioners Act 2020 & Design & Building Practitioners Regulation 2021
  • Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance & Enforcement Powers) Act 2020
  • Environmental Planning and Assessment (Development Certification and Fire Safety) Regulation 2021
  • Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021
  • Home Building Act (currently being revised)
  • Industry report on reforms to improve fire safety in new and existing buildings
  • ABCB National Registration Framework

Gordon also provided a presentation on Fire Safety Schedules and recommendations as to how they can, and should, be improved, and spoke to other matters including:

  • the current status of design accreditation and classes of design practitioners for Fire Safety;
  • Government-driven initiatives, such as a customer focused regulatory format, measurable profile rating system, lifting of skills and capabilities, strengthening contracts and standards and using digital platforms;
  • the Certifier Practice Standards; and
  • the work of the Fire Safety Practice Group.

Richard Luscombe of Windsor Management & Insurance Brokers provided the meeting with an update on the economic impacts of recent floods, the availability of PI Insurance, and the prospects of developing Retention Bonds.

Brian Gould of Gould Instruments gave a presentation and demonstration on next generation instruments available to the Fire Protection Industry.

Members were also advised of the charitable works and events being hosted by the NFIA Patron, Brian Davies, particularly the Boardroom Lunch being held on 2 September 2022 at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel with guest speakers, Ian Chappell and Tim Thomas.

During General Business there was lively debate on regulatory reform, the Diploma in Fire System Design, RPL, and the FPAS.

The next NSW Members’ Meeting will be held on 10th November 2022.