July 4, 2017
While the media and various commentators are on a laudable mission to identify combustible cladding on buildings and defective passive fire installation, I want to take a moment to reflect on the good stuff happening in the fire industry.
The good stuff comes from individuals rather than organisations. Organisations may provide the framework, but within any framework individuals can choose to perform well or poorly. The individuals I am talking about are those who care enough about fire safety and protecting the lives of others to do the job properly regardless of the circumstances in which they operate.
These individuals can be found in our client organisations. They insist on doing fire safety properly even when they feel the pain of the extra costs incurred. They might be the project managers who understand the need for safety and are prepared to adjust the programme so that things are done properly, often bearing the brunt of the frustrations when there are delays and cost escalations due to their commitment to fire safety.
These individuals might be the fire safety engineers and consultants who refuse to consider fire safety as an optional extra that can be designed away to save money for a cost-conscious client. They might be the consent processing staff in local councils who insist on the plans and specifications being right amidst cries of red tape, bureaucracy and delay tactics.
They are the building inspectors who won’t sign things off until they are right even if it takes many inspections to install a fire collar correctly. They are the site foremen who diligently identify defects and don’t close up areas until they are completed. And they are the tradesmen who, once shown how to install the fire stopping associated with their trade, keep doing it properly on every project.
I meet these people every day and it gives me hope that there is a discernible ground swell of people taking personal responsibility to make sure fire safety is done properly at every point in a project. I take my hat off to these people and thank you, because without you my job would not be worthwhile.
In closing, there is one organisation I would like to mention and that is the Fire Protection Association of NZ and its members. It has special interest groups for all things related to fire safety from sprinklers, alarms, and passive fire, to inspecting and training. The members of these groups devote endless hours of free time to raising the standards for all in the fire industry. They are making a difference.