Training and career development

June 2018 Editor's Choice, Fire & Safety, Training & Education

FDIA member companies are encouraged to continuously train their staff in the proper design, installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems so as to uplift their understanding, quality of work, and remain up to date with changes in fire-related standards.

There are defined career paths that can be taken within the fire detection and gaseous fire suppression system disciplines, and depending on one’s work experience, interest, educational background and exposure, there is opportunity to attain a recognised and accredited qualification.

There are various levels of training available in the industry from systems basics through to commissioning and system design (based on deemed-to-satisfy rules) as well as specific supplier product training. All of these are intended to uplift the skills of technicians in the industry. The FDIA does not offer training, neither does it approve any training, but it does recognise the training centres and courses approved by SAQCC Fire.

Among the requirements of being an FDIA member is that a fire detection installer company must have at least one designer and one commissioner registered at SAQCC Fire, and a gas extinguishing installer company must have one commissioner registered at SAQCC Fire. A technician who may have industry experience but does not have an SAQCC Fire registration is not permitted to work as a designer, technician, cabler, installer, pipe fitter, commissioner or serviceman. This is a requirement from the Department of Labour.

Upholding standards and education

Through newsletters and social media, the FDIA is constantly seeking to inform its members and the public about adherence to standards for fire detection and fire suppression systems and the importance of using FDIA service providers that are adequately registered, certified and actively involved in the continuous training of staff. We are in the business of life safety and there can be no compromises in this regard.

FDIA member companies have at least three of their new installations inspected annually by a SANAS accredited third-party independent body in order to check the quality of workmanship and adherence to appropriate standards.

Skills challenge

We have a shortage of skilled fire alarm technicians in South Africa. Despite the cost implications and time that staff have to spend away from work, employers should continually send their technical staff for training. Well-trained staff are more highly motivated. Staff who can see a way to progress and attain a recognised industry qualification would be more motivated, having something they can actually work towards.

Testing has shown that persons with more than 20 years of industry experience not having completed the specified courses may not pass exams based on the SANS 10139 curriculum. Even fire consulting engineers have recognised the value of trainings offered and benefitted from passing the fire detection design courses offered. Continuous training and development is the key to successful installations that will deliver the protection they are designed to provide.

SAQCC Fire

The South African Qualification & Certification Committee (SAQCC) Fire is a non-profit company established to ensure that individuals designing, installing and servicing gas suppression and fire detection systems, and fire protection equipment have the correct training, qualifications and experience.

A visit to the SAQCC Fire website (www.saqccfire.co.za) will show the various categories in which one can be registered, and the approved courses/training centres that are required for registration in that category. The SAQCC Fire is not a training centre but it is involved in the process of establishing a training curriculum via working with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupation (QCTO).

Registration with the SAQCC Fire is a mandatory requirement from the Department of Labour for the available levels of competence in the fire industry. Provision has been made for the registration of trainees for a period of up to two years, within which time at least one of the recognised levels should be attained while working under supervision.

For comments and enquiries please contact the FDIA on fdia@fdia.co.za





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