Fire New Zealand (FireNZ) has experienced considerable growth over the past three years. A substantial increase in local and international visitors and exhibitors has seen it evolve from two days to a full three-day event, and tradeshow. Exhibitor numbers have increased from around 30 stands to well over 60.
This growth means delegates and exhibitors can choose between a wide variety of opportunities, including high-calibre international speakers, site visits, workshops, and the ability to visit with and hear from every major product supplier in the industry.
The target market has grown to now include a sweeping audience comprising local councils, government departments, building owners, facility managers, independent qualified persons (IQPs), building contractors, construction companies, and service providers. With all key fire service solution providers, product suppliers, engineers, and consumers in the same place at the same time, it simply makes sense to be there.
The tradeshow component has become popular with suppliers and delegates alike, and many suppliers use the forum to demonstrate new products and innovations. Friendly rivalry between exhibitors has seen the quality of displays and stand giveaways improve with every event.
Our theme for 2017 is “The Beginning of a New Era”, and the conference will be held from 11 to 13 October at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, Auckland, New Zealand.
A number of innovations will see FireNZ 2017 reach new heights, so do register your interest if you wish to become an exhibitor by contacting us on [email protected]
Industry training and New Zealand fire industry skills shortage
Like a number of trades in the New Zealand construction sector, all areas of the fire protection industry are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, and the industry is actively searching for ways to attract school leavers. This year, the Fire Protection Association of New Zealand (FPANZ) is introducing several key initiatives to help alleviate this industry-wide problem.
First and foremost is the formation of a training special interest group (SIG). This group held its inaugural meeting in March and included representation from key stakeholders from across the industry. The primary focus of the group is to form strategies around industry training as well as creating short-term solutions to the skills shortage while longer-term strategies are put in place and take effect. The training SIG is an exciting opportunity for the fire industry and represents a genuine effort to remedy the current skills shortage.
We will also be working closely with associated industry bodies such as the Institution of Fire Engineers New Zealand Branch (IFE); Competenz, New Zealand’s developer of training and formal qualifications; and the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) New Zealand chapter. FPA Australia have generously provided a substantial amount of training material to expedite the development of new training modules for the updated qualifications within New Zealand.
Last year saw the introduction of a careers afternoon to FireNZ 2016. Some 30 careers advisors heard from an extensive selection of industry workers, including those involved with alarms, sprinklers, and passive systems as well as testers, installers, technicians, designers, estimators, fire engineers, and firefighters. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with attendees coming away with a much improved understanding of the considerable number of career options available within the New Zealand fire industry. The fact that income from these positions would rival that from any mainstream trade was a revelation for many. Also apparent was how easily staff currently employed in many other similar trades—such as plumbing or electrical—can transition into fire-related roles by cross-crediting previous training and qualifications. When careers advisers understand and can elaborate on the rich variety of roles within the industry, we can start to address the industry staffing shortages at the roots. To build on this success, FireNZ 2017 will again offer this opportunity to educate the careers sector, and new initiatives for this presentation are already underway.
Halon: An Ozone-depleting substance
Halon 1211 and Halon 1301 are very effective fire suppressors that have been widely used all over the world; however, they are also highly destructive ozone-depleting substances. Ozone depletion is an important concern worldwide, and every industry has a role in protecting the environment. Furthermore, as servicing for Halon extinguishers has not been available in New Zealand since the 1990s, these systems and hand extinguishers are also at risk of failing in a fire. In recognition of this potentially dangerous situation, FPANZ initiated and managed a project to recover and safely dispose of Halon extinguishers and suppression systems.
This project, which continues the successful work undertaken over many years by Halon Recycling NZ Limited – a non-profit company formed and owned by FPANZ – is run in conjunction with the New Zealand government and will end on 30 November 2017. The cost of upgrading extinguishers and systems will continue to be subsidized until then by the government and the fire-protection industry. A third shipment will depart for the National Halon Bank in Australia within the month.
FPANZ are actively encouraging building owners and members of the public to check their offices, boats, cars, workshops, caravans, and airplanes for yellow Halon extinguishers and to take advantage of the subsidy by replacing them at one of our many member sites.
This project benefits both the public and the environment, as the new systems will operate as required in the event of a fire and have far less impact on the ozone layer.
By Scott Lawson
Executive Director, Fire Protection Association NZ
For more information, go to www.fireprotection.org.nz