This year’s British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association AGM & dinner was held in the vibrant and developing city of Liverpool, at the (sprinkler fitted, of course) Marriott Hotel in the city centre.
After an hour or so for colleagues to catch up with a coffee, the formal proceedings of the AGM got under way. BAFSA Chairman, John McCann’s commentary focused very much on two things:
- The vast increase in calls to BAFSA and requests for advice and comment following the Grenfell fire disaster; and
- One probable outcome of the Grenfell Inquiry (see https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/) being that fire sprinkler designers and installers are highly likely in future to be required to demonstrate their competence to carry out such work, akin to NICEIC, Gas Safe etc.
Following a short break – with biscuits this time – Ruth Oliver of REO Consultancy and Skills & Qualifications Adviser to BAFSA talked about why training and qualifications will become more important. As well as likely post-Grenfell competence requirements, there is ongoing growth in the fire sprinkler industry, which has an ageing workforce and not necessarily enough to attract younger employees to enter – these are all reasons why Ruth is working with a number of establishments to develop and grow fire sprinkler qualifications. We have a growing industry and yet a shortage of entrants which will lead to labour shortages in the near future unless these facilities are taken advantage of. Stephen Adamson of the Manchester College and Ian Lumsdaine of Neath Port Talbot College each went on to highlight some specific areas of the offering from their own establishments.
Wendy Otway, who looks after Marketing & Events, talked further about the vast amount of work done in the latter part of this year following Grenfell, about the investments being made by BAFSA into awareness, and the new website including a redeveloped members’ area. Wendy went on to co-ordinate the awards of Lifelong Member to the inimitable and universally respected Peter Armstrong, and two student awards including one to George of FVS, the sister company of our ZONE GUARDIAN distributor Zeffire.
The AGM and presentations drew to a close, so Sale Engineering MD Rob Bell set off to another local hotel to ‘refresh’ for dinner; unfortunately it was now the middle of the Liverpool rush-hour (quite why we use the word ‘rush’ is unclear!). The lack of a good satnav signal meant a brief wrong turn was taken, and another one missed, which then led to the short drive lasting almost an hour, followed by 15 minutes stood in a cold and dark car park making payment by phone due to a faulty machine. 75 minutes after leaving the AGM, Rob walked into his hotel room and checked out where he’d been, only to find that the Marriot was now…300 metres away!