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Advocacy in Overdrive – The Work of FPA Australia

As the peak body for fire protection in Australia, Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) takes its mandate to advocate best practice fire protection outcomes for the community seriously.

Since 2012 we have expanded our capability significantly to make strong representation for our industry and the community on all fire safety matters. The Association is focused on all elements of fire protection in both the built and bushfire environments, from initial design, installation and commissioning, certification, and ongoing inspection, testing and maintenance.

As a result we have seen some incredible changes in the way that fire protection and safety are regulated in this country. An important turning point in the evolution of fire protection regulation was the official release of Australian Standard 1851-2012 Routine Service of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment. This standard, which was released in December 2012 and superseded the 2005 edition, sets out the inspection, test, preventative maintenance and survey requirements to demonstrate that the fire systems and equipment installed in a building are achieving a standard of performance to which they were designed (the approved design). Since its release FPA Australia has worked tirelessly to see this standard adopted as recognised best practice for fire protection maintenance in all states and territories of Australia. As a direct result of this work, the standard has now been formally adopted by all states and territories except Victoria, which is expected to introduce the new standard in its revised building regulations in 2016, and the Northern Territory, which is likely to announce the change in the very near future.

Successfully lobbying policymakers to change regulation is painstaking work and the successful adoption of AS 1851-2012 to a nearly nationally harmonised level is the result of many hundreds of meetings and thousands of hours of work behind the scene. But there is a highly beneficial pay off, both for buildings owners and residents, our members (fire protection companies and technicians) and the public at large: AS 1851-2012 reduces the frequency of some activities (which also reduces costs for building owners) while enhancing the most important safety aspects of the standard, a true win-win outcome.

In addition to this critical advocacy work, the Association also ran national seminars on AS 1851-2012 instructing members and other relevant stakeholders, including facility managers and building owners, about the changes to be implemented with the launch of the new standard. FPA Australia has also developed a suite of highly detailed recording and reporting logbooks in-line with the new standard to ensure that best practice and compliance to the new standard can be achieved and maintained with maximum confidence.

Pursuing the national adoption of AS 1851-2012 is just one way the Association is delivering on our vision of leading and supporting a professional industry to minimise the impact of fire on life, property and the environment, for a safer community. Another critical milestone on this journey occurred in 2014 when the Association was invited to participate on the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) Building Codes Committee (BCC). The BCC is ABCB’s peak building technical advisory body and the national forum for regulatory authorities and industry to consider technical matters relevant to building regulation reform. Our invitation to, and participation on, the BCC is yet another way we are advocating for our industry and the community as the peak body for fire protection.

Finally, it is important to note our significant and ongoing work in introducing our own framework for professionalisation. This has been achieved with the launch of our fire protection accreditation scheme (FPAS). Launched in July 2013, FPAS is the only nationally harmonised accreditation system designed to recognise the skills and competencies of individuals working in the fire protection industry across all state and territory jurisdictions in Australia.

The Scheme is the Association’s way of highlighting those individuals and businesses that are committed to the highest standards of community fire safety through the ongoing professionalisation of their workforce. The Scheme currently operates in the Inspect & Test class of fire protection work (AS 1851), with almost 700 fire protection technicians already accredited. Recently the Association announced the opening of expressions of interest for the next two classes of Accreditation under FPAS: Fire Systems Design and Fire Systems Certification. It is expected these two classes will be officially launched prior to June 2015.

These are just some of the many ways that FPA Australia is taking an important leadership role and living up to our vision, mission and values. We will continue to play our part as the peak body for this fantastic industry as we work towards a community safe from fire related incidents.

For further information, go to www.fpaa.com.au

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FPA Australia CEO