Outgoing President's Report - November, 2021

Posted on : Friday, 26 November 2021

Dear members,


As I come to the end of my term as President of FPA Australia, I want to thank our members and my fellow directors for the privilege ofrepresenting you. 


Thanks, also, to the dedicated staff who have supportedme and the Board as we endeavoured to deliver a stronger, more sustainable, fire protection industry. 


The last twelve years have been both challenging and rewarding, and I'm glad that the Association has been able to weather the Coronavirus storm and is coming through the other side. 


Developments across the country in response to the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report has been a key focus of my time as President, and the regulatory activity has been significant. 


We've been able to leverage our recognised brand and long-established relationships to pursue some tangible reforms to the betterment and benefit of our industry. 


For my last report, I wanted to talk about the future. 


There is no doubt that Australia is facing a severe skills shortage, exacerbated by two years of no skilled migration and impediments to delivering training to new industry participants. 


These issues have affected the fire protection industry as much as any other, with competition for the fewer numbers ofskilled staff perhaps greater than at almost any other point in history. 


Traditionally, our industry has been better paid than many others, but this is gradually changing as other sectors come to realise that money talks. 


So, as an industry, we need to look to the future - who will be performing fire safety when current practitioners have long since retired? 


In my presentation at this year's Fire Australia conference, I spoke about making the fire safety sector an industry of choice. 


This doesn't just mean keeping a watch on other trades to make sure that we are compensating our highly skilled staff appropriately. 


It means showing new entrants a career pathway so that they know they have a future. 


It means pairing up young people with some of the industry leaders, so that the latter can impart their wisdom. 


It means being agile and adopting new practices and technologies, so that we can, as an industry, achieve more for our clients. 


Fire protection is one of the few industries whose goals and purpose are unimpeachable.


Our practitioners are out there every day, keeping people and property safe from the risk of fire. 


As the peak Association for fire protection, FPA Australia needs to continue tol ead by showing the potential of the sector and demonstrating how new entrants can make a difference. 


I have no doubt that the Board and staff will continue to promote the importance of our industry and ensure it is seen as an employer of choice. 


The Association has strong ties with governments and other stakeholders, and I hope that this can improve our ability to deliver better pathways into the industry andt o attract the next generation of fire protection practitioners. 


Finally, I congratulation Mike Donegan and Mark Potter on their accession to the Board, and Bob Grieve and Patrick Conway for their election to President and Vice-President respectively. 


The FPA Australia Board is a big commitment and takes a significant amount of time, but it was an honour to serve. 


Members who nominate for the Board should be congratulated for their willingness to volunteer, and I'm pleased to hand over the baton to the new guard.


For my part, now, I might go farming! 


Stay safe! 


William Lea AFSM