Member Meeting – January 19, 2022 2:30 – 4:30 PM Via ZOOM
- Kathleen Nicholas – Sterling Fire
- Colin Greenhalgh – Western Canada
- Eric Lindquist – Cascade Fire Protection
- Tim Lindsay – Cantec Fire
- Travis Clarkson – Troy Life & Fire
- Nanyak Dala – Capital City Fire
- Steve Landree – Pacific Coast Fire
- Rob Sonier – 4 Seasons Fire
- Ray Shaw – Capital City Fire
- Murray Enders – Troy Lif & Fire
- Kyle Bunkis – CBS Electric
- Chris Caddell – Viking Fire Victoria
- Kane Wyatt – Technical Fire
- Tony Godwin – Senez Consulting
- Craig Richardson – Office of Fire Commissioner
- Ed Prior – Prior Engineering
- Michael Addy – Engineering
- Mike Staples – Victoria Electrical Dept
- Calvin Gray – Victoria Building Dept
- Joe Robinsmith – Dragon Fire Education
- Megan Sabell – Victoria Fire Dept
- Gord Miller – Northfort Fire
- Ricky Duggal – Triumph Engineering
- Graeme Webb – Forcefield Fire Protection
- Lisa Smirfitt – Pacific Coast Fire
- Adoption of Agenda
- Adoption of DecemberMinutes
- Financial Report – Tim Lindsay, Treasurer
- Old Business
- 2022 – What Kind of Year Do We Want to See?
CHAIR: Colin Greenhalgh
1. OPEN MEETING AND INTRODUCTIONS: Colin – Western Canada Fire Protection
2. ADOPTION OF AGENDA
3. ADOPTION OF December MINUTES
1st: Murray Enders. 2nd: Tim LIndsay. Unanimous.
4. FINANCIAL REPORT:
Current balance as of today – approximately $1,452.02.Latest expenses are just the monthly bank charges. We’ve got two payments yet to come out for our web designer and the host of the site – a reimbursement to Tim for making the payment on our behalf. January and February is membership renewal time prior to our AGM in March.
5. OLD BUSINESS
AGM is coming up on March and we’re looking for folks to join the board.
6. 2022 – What kind of year do we want to see?
Overarching goal this year is Standardization.
Tim did a 2 hour Zoom presentation to the North Saanich Fire Department about fire alarm systems and what they guys should look for on site. As an example of standardization, it may be that different districts may have different needs and processes than others, simply because of the buildings that they are dealing with.
Education is a huge component for our standardization goals. Colin met with Carmen DeGoey at Camosun College and she can help facilitate education as part of our drive for standardization of technical skill, both online with Joe Robinsmith of Dragon Fire Education. While it might be easy to wait for the government to take the lead, the question is should we push – on Vancouver Island – push for a standard certification, with the intent that we are working with the AHJ’s who would then have a standard expectation. Fire Protection Technician vs. Fire Alarm Technician – the former includes anything that is over and above the alarm technician, and includes extinguishers, kitchen suppression, etc.
Should there be a requirement for either level of technical certification and do we want to pursue that?
Current BC Code says that the municipalities cannot ask for anything in excess of the Code requirements without special permission by the province. This makes it hard for the districts to enforce the education requirement.
However, the standard state that the service person must be acceptable to the AHJ’s, so the Code does give that leeway.
“Any person who performs the annual test and inspection of a fire alarm system should be knowledgeable about this Standard (CAN/ULC-S536-13) and have received suitable formal training or sufficient experience acceptable to the authorities having jurisdiction.”
A distinction should also be made between the inspecting technician vs. an installation & commissioning technician. What we’re specifically talking about if the inspection technician: should we have a standard of training for the island?
The Interior (Kelowna) has brought in the ASTT certification – they have created a sample Bylaw for use by other municipalities. Kelowna’s definition:
“qualified technician” means a person having certification acceptable to the Fire Chief or designate, that qualifies the person to perform inspections and testing on fire protection equipment in accordance to manufacturers specifications;
Nanaimo has ASTT as their default requirement, but you can prove your credentials to the fire department there for acceptance. ASTT doesn’t have jurisdiction over installation or commissioning, only over inspection and testing. This is an important distinction to acknowledge.
Distinction between ASTT and CFAA: ASTT covers a number of life safety systems, which CFAA is fire alarm system certification only. So which is more useful? This is a discussion that has arisen at CFAA meetings and they have no desire to change their coverage. The concern remains that CFAA doesn’t cover what a Fire Protection Technician is required to deal with during an annual inspection of a whole building and all of the included equipment. There have been a number of discussions about why we would choose to endorse CFAA rather than ASTT, but does that give us a fully trained and certified technician?
Limiting to ASTT only ignores all of the other training and manufacturer education, which is essential in order to have a fully qualified technician in many areas. Alberta just put out a new Standata requiring a technician to be certified by the manufacturer before they are allowed to work on a fire alarm system. It’s better to leave multiple paths to certification.
ASTT creates a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Red Seal electricians and sprinkler fitters are essential, depending on the systems being worked on and neither are ASTT certified.
While specialized training may be required for various systems, can we agree on a baseline of education to create a minimum standard? Where do folks go now for that kind of training if there is no standardized training?
Most training is done in house by companies taking on a person and teaching them the way to do testing and inspection. But at what point do we say they’re now trained and capable of being on their own? In Prince George, that question is alive because of the Econo-Lodge fire and the impending lawsuit. Their city requires that technicians be ASTTBC certified. But at present, it’s up to the individual districts to make the decision on who is trained. Perhaps we can give the AHJ’s an idea of the qualifications they should be looking for.
We’re not looking for a “super tech” who is qualified in everything. What we’re hoping to establish is that baseline of training for all techs who work on fire alarm systems and standard building components. But the challenge is that it takes multiple people depending on the discipline.
In Alberta, for example, if you have your Red Seal in electrical, you have taken fire alarm system training. That isn’t the case in B.C., so you’d still have to take your CFAA training to get that certification. (Alberta Fire Safety Association – https://www.albertafire.com/)
ASTT course isn’t enough in Alberta. In the sprinkler fitter world, in order to take the ITM course (inspection, testing, and maintenance), you must have a Red Seal ticket. They’re raising the bar. They don’t want untrained people.
This is definitely the conversation that we had from the beginning of the Association: there weren’t enough educational choices, money to train new techs, or time off to do the course. There needs to be more choices to make education accessible and to increase the number of trained and qualified people.
There are two schools of thought on moving forward: we can build the tent or the mansion. The quality of the certification is a valid discussion topic. But when we have nothing in place right now, maybe we need to endorse something, a baseline, rather than doing nothing at all. Maybe it’s having a fire alarm technician who is trained to do a minimum of things – inspections alone, rather than needing a Red Seal in any area just to start.
AHJ’s appreciate the idea of a certified technician. They see us as the experts in our field and that’s why the rely on us and assume that we have the appropriate training for the work. They’re not in the position to determine what training anyone has and whether it’s enough. They rely on the paperwork that is left behind to be technically correct. Not sure if Zone 1 would be open to a certification level at this time, but they would appreciate a minimum standard of training. They are still trusting that folks are doing the work required, but that can be abused when there is no standardization in training or reports.
Standardization helps to ensure that the correct services are being done, by certified technicians, so that the companies are mitigating both their corporate liability and the risk for their clients. Changing the requirements is guaranteed to ruffle some feathers, but this is why we’re talking now. Apparently this has been tried before, but that shouldn’t stop us from bringing forward this drive for standardization.
Maybe we should start with a standard for fire alarm technician, CFAA, before taking on setting the standard for fire protection technician. Keep it simple to start to get something achieved. Do something that is palatable to Island AHJ’s – Zone 1 and Matt Barney from Sooke have their next big meeting in May. We can then build on that later. SMART Goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Circling back to Prince George and the question of education, that could lead to a provincial level requirement for qualifications. Side discussion re: merits of the case. At present, you have to have a Red Seal to be a hairdresser, but nothing is required for the life safety industry.
At the February meeting, we’ll be looking to create an action plan to move forward and create sub-committees and working groups. Many hands make light work! We’d like to get more folks involved in working on the goals of the association. We’re bigger than the folks attending today. We want to ensure that folks feel that the association has value to the members.
Tim wants to add to the monthly agenda – introductions of people to everyone. Who they are and what company they’re with can really say a lot about the thoughts and ideas that they share. Lots of folks agree that that’s a great idea!
Creating a working committee on Fire Smoke Damper Control with Chris Caddell, Michael Addy, Ricky Duggal, Ray Berkley, Calvin Gray, and a few others. It’s a go and Tim will connect everyone!
Links from Gord Miller – Northfort Fire
AFSA Technician Form
Alberta Standata Qualifications – NEW – issued this week
FIXED FIRE SUPPRESSION AND EXHAUST SYSTEMS – COOKING, CLEANING, AND MAINTENANCE
PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
of note – Emergency Lighting is left out – as always –
Conclusion – 4:20 PM
NEXT Meeting: Wednesday, February 9, 2022
ADDENDUM from Joe Robinsmith, Dragon Fire Education:
Anyways, my courses exceed ASTT requirements. The ASTT requirements to me, are the lowest bar to jump over. CFAA is a middle bar to get for fire alarm only.
Talking to Technical Safety BC, they have no interest in getting into the fire & life safety certification.
All of my material for the Life Safety electrical course is from the Electrical Apprenticeship Level 1 and Level 2 program, which is what I wanted to answer the fellow from Viking, but could not while driving. We stress safety, safety safety ! No, they won’t qualify for a Red Seal, but they will have more than what the BCIT course offers for sure.
My material for Fire alarm 101 is the introductory course from CFAA. My material for Fire alarm 105 is the CFAA 5 course material. Though they cannot take my course to CFAA and get registered as a CFAA tech, they have the same training.
My course for Fire Extinguishers is based on the Fire Extinguisher material from NFPA training.
My course for Emergency Lights is based on the Level 4 Electrical apprenticeship program.
My sprinkler test & inspect course is similar to the BCIT course with NFPA 13 and NFPA 25 supplemental material.
While we certainly do not need every single tech to be a Red Seal electrician or a Red Seal sprinkler fitter, having them receive as much training as possible is certainly going to be in everyone’s best interest.
My idea is that taking the basic 6 courses should qualify them as a Junior Fire Protection Technician. So a kid out of high school as you mentioned, could take these 6 courses and have enough education to get started in the trade. After say 2 to 3 years in the trade and continuing education credits, technicians could take Fire Code, Building Code, Fire Suppression introductory course along with manufacturer training, ULC S1001 course, Verification course supplemented by manufacturer training. Then they could qualify as a Senior Fire Protection technician.