It is very rewarding to host a major conference such as the recent Fire Australia Conference and Tradeshow held in Sydney, Australia but even more rewarding when it was so well attended with a record numbers of attendees and the outstanding quality of papers presented.
Obviously we are thrilled that we attracted more attendees, more sponsors, more exhibitors and raised a record amount of money for our Charity Dinner Partner – the Fiona Wood Foundation
But professionally, one of the most satisfying things is to have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders and discuss issues that are front of mind in the fire protection industry both here in Australia and overseas.
Interestingly, we are all faced with similar issues, challenges and opportunities. The US-based National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), undoubtedly the world leaders in fire protection, sees the challenges coming from an ageing population, an increase in the severity of bush or wild fires and the management of the additional fire risk associated with residential renewable energy systems.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also from the US, discussed concerns about the fire characteristics of modern furnishings versus older ones and how much faster, and more intensely new furnishings combust.
These are all issues we have in common and no doubt all around the Pacific and Asia, fire protection agencies and government bodies will be considering how they will manage the potential risk posed to a population that will live longer and more independently than ever before. Australia is a leading adopter of renewable energy and our residential solar power take-up is extremely high. But as we begin to store more power in lithium ion batteries for use when the sun isn’t shining, what additional fire risk is posed? Importantly, how do our firefighters manage residential fires where power is being generated through solar panels that remain active?
Bushfire severity is another shared concern. The US is experiencing summer wildfires like never before, and of course, Australia is one of the most bushfire prone country in the world. Both our nations expect to see more frequent, more intense and more damaging fires into the future, so there is a lot we can share with each other how to reduce risk and increase public safety.
Without discussions like those held around the Fire Australia Conference, we will not benefit from sharing knowledge, research and ideas that will provide the directions for future learnings and solutions. Which is why it is important that we continue to support each other’s knowledge sharing opportunities in person or through other collaboration mediums to continue the valuable discussions.
As I have said before, Fire Protection Association Australia is very proud to share its industry and business knowledge with its Asia Pacific partners. We all have the same goals and often, it seems, we have the same issues.
For more information, go to www.fpaa.com.au