The fire protection industry exists to save lives and minimise damage to property from the devastating effects of fire. NFIA has explained in previous articles that for the industry to be at its best there must be a comprehensive system of contractor registration across all occupations involved in the design, installation, maintenance and certification of fire protection systems in all Australian jurisdictions.
But….there is no point introducing a licensing scheme unless the scheme requires that all practitioners have appropriate skills, knowledge and qualifications. The only way to ensure the integrity of a licensing scheme is to align national training packages with accreditation categories, scopes and prescribed activities.
The current Australian training framework provides fire protection qualifications from Certificate II through to Certificate V level. These Qualifications are on the National Training Register and the organisations delivering them are overviewed and audited for quality and compliance with national standards by ASQA (The Australian Skills Quality Authority). An organisation that fails an audit is at risk of losing its delivery license.
At the national level, Australia’s training framework or Vocational Education Training (VET) sector is highly regulated and ensures consistency, integrity and rigour of the training delivered and of the organisations delivering the training.
Each stage of the installation, certification and ongoing service, maintenance and repair of the building’s fire safety system must be carried out by those with appropriate skills, knowledge and qualifications. NFIA believes that only trade and post trade qualifications are based on training that covers a broad range of job knowledge, verification of job performance, and an evaluation of work experience. These qualifications represent a job outcome and career profile and not just a course and task outcome. With a strong focus on practical learning, trade and post trade qualifications can never be gained by attendance alone. A full trade outcome also gives the practitioner a complete understanding of the systems that they will be working on. Assessment is independent, rigorous and based on national standards.
NFIA is uniquely placed to assist with the delivery of apprentice and post apprentice training through their industry owned Registered Training Organisations which have been established at Beenleigh Qld, Brunswick Victoria and Lidcombe NSW. Students from around Australia can enrol and complete their fire protection qualifications and training through the most modern, quality training delivery methods.
NFIA’s training colleges currently have over 570 apprentices enrolled and lead the industry in apprenticeship completion rates consistently exceeding 92 per cent which is well above the national average which in recent times has faltered below 50 per cent. Additionally, NFIA’s training colleges have over 200 people enrolled in pre-trade and post-trade training courses.
Training colleges which are about industry, with active participation and leadership from the industry makes all the difference. We are able to provide a high level of mentoring to guide our apprentices from start to completion as well as the most current technology and teaching practices.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares NFIA’s views on the importance of trade qualifications or our policy position that any fire protection licensing regime must be underpinned by nationally recognised trade qualifications.
At a national level, there has been a training package review of the Certificate II & III in Fire Protection Inspection and Testing. NFIA is concerned about the proposed expansion of the qualifications into trade related work. The work in question involves the routine servicing of active fire protection systems including fire sprinkler systems, fire pumps, hydrants (boosted and unboosted) and hose reels. This work should only be undertaken by trade qualified Sprinkler Fitters (or plumbers with the appropriate units) who complete the Certificate III in Fire Protection.
Additionally, not all jurisdictions require nationally recognised trade qualifications as evidence of competence for accreditation or licensing.
Highly trained, well skilled and professional fire protection people work at the industry’s front line to protect the lives of millions of Australians and billions of dollars of assets every day. This is why the industry invests so much energy and effort into genuine fire trade apprenticeships so that students gain the full qualifications required to ensure that our fire protection systems work when needed so as to avoid tragic events such as Grenfell Tower from happening in Australia.
While governments from all around Australia are examining their fire protection regulation it is absolutely imperative that they look to nationally recognised trade qualifications as the educational requirements for licensing.