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Industry collaborates to strengthen fire safety

A new course has become available for HVAC&R technicians who are maintaining or signing off mechanical services for Annual Fire Safety Statements (AFSS).

The course has been approved by the NSW Department of Customer Service under the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS). It will allow Certificate III-qualified professionals to conduct annual certification of essential fire safety measures, including fire dampers, smoke dampers, smoke and heat vents, and mechanical air handling equipment.

Previously, practitioners could only become accredited for these activities under FPAS by completing a diploma course – something the vast majority of individuals working in the area did not have. Depending on the Diploma course undertaken, it was also possible that students did not receive the required knowledge of essential safety measures.

The new course has been tailored to the needs of those who check fire safety systems and is the result of a collaboration between Superior Training Centre (STC), AIRAH and the Fire Protection Association of Australia (FPAA). It requires the completion of five units of competency including UEERA0098Inspect, test and repair fire and smoke control features of mechanical services systems.

STC and AIRAH worked together to develop the course and assessment materials for UEERA0098, and industry supported its adoption within FPAS.

STC Director Ben Peters says the approval of the new certification pathway addresses a major industry issue.

“Prior to the adoption of the new course there was a gap,” he says, “because people who attained the Certificate III in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration did not receive training on design intent, the operation of fire dampers, mechanical air handling systems, smoke and heat vents, or smoke dampers.

“Now we are able to train and assess students in respect to these specific items, which the HVAC industry has traditionally maintained but was not necessarily ‘competent on’.”

AIRAH’s Education and Technical Services Manager Brendan Pejkovic says the course is an excellent example of industry collaborating to address a need.

“Fire safety is literally a life-or-death issue,” says Pejkovic. “By working together, we have been able to ensure that practitioners are appropriately qualified and experienced – and we have enough workers to check essential safety measures in our buildings.”

Peters agrees that the course represents a good result for both the industry and the public.

“We see this as the best outcome for the entire HVAC&R sector,” he says. “It will improve practitioners’ knowledge of essential safety systems and how they operate, which will make all buildings safer.”

Superior Training Centre is delivering the UEERA0098 unit online and can be contacted at firetraining@stc.nsw.edu.au

The remaining units required for the FPAS accreditation (BSBOPS304, CPPFES2004, PUAFIR403 and PUAFIR507) can be obtained by FPA Australia, or through RTOs that can be found at training.gov.au

Photo by Alexander Zvir

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