Plumbing Regulations (Vic) 2018 - A nightmare of government red tape and idiotic policy!

The fire protection industry in Victoria has been thrown into turmoil leading up the 2018 State Election with the publication of the Plumbing Regulations 2018 by the Labour Government of Hon Daniel Andrews (Premier) due to come into law on November 18, 2018. Changes to the registration and licensing of people who currently conduct the routine servicing of fire hydrants and fire hose reels will place thousands of jobs of experienced, competent, honest, hard working people in jeopardy and risk the compliance obligations of building owners.

At Firewize we work hard to ensure our team are competent and reliable industry professionals. We ask Richard Wynne MP to listen to the community of people working in the Fire Protection Industry and facilitate immediate changes to avert this unnecessary change to regulation! Should there be a change in Government on November 24, we ask that Brad Battin MP step in and help correct this idiotic change in policy and legislation.

Background

It is our contention that the proposed changes to licensing for fire protection work are biased and are without merit and will cause a significant cost to the community with little community benefit. Specifically our concerns relate to the proposed inclusion of “routine servicing” within the definition of “fire protection work” of the Regulations.

The direct impact of these changes will be that we will not be able to use about 40% of our current workforce who have completed the Certificate II in Asset Maintenance to undertake this work. This will place jobs at risk, with no current prospects of employing people who satisfy the new license requirements, due to insufficient numbers of people with the relevant registration and competency.

According to the Plumbing Regulations, Regulatory Impact Statement, “Table 17: Number of registered and licensed plumbers by plumbing class” of the Regulatory Impact Statement, there are 582 “Registered Plumbers (Fire Protection Work)”, and 118 “Licensed Plumbers (Fire Protection Work”), or 700 (Fire Protection Plumbers) in Victoria. Unfortunately there is little information available to break these numbers down any further into the various subcategories of work, however with some assistance of other fire protection contractors we have been able to ‘estimate’ the numbers as follows;

Based on the information from Table 17 of the RIS, and our extrapolation of the information we believe that there is between 90 and 120 people ONLY Licensed or Registered to undertake the Inspection, Test and Survey work in Victoria.

If the average person works 48 weeks per year, less public holidays at 36 hours per week, that equates to approximately 1,635 available work hours per year. At this rate there is a requirement for almost three times the current amount of fire protection workers, or an additional 270 to 360 workers.

Currently about 60% of the work proposed to be annexed by the proposed Regulations is being undertaken by people typically with a Certificate II or Certificate III in Asset maintenance or are currently undertaking this training via Registered Training Organisations such as FPA Australia.

Skills, Experience and Competency to undertake the work

The current skills, experience and competency of registered and/or licensed fire protection workers (Sprinkler Fitters) in Victoria as it relates to the proposed changes to the Regulations is very low.

In consultation with our registered fire protection workers and our industry experience a significant number of people working in the fire protection industry (estimated to be over 75%) are involved in installation works (not routine servicing) for the majority of their careers. In addition, a significant number of these workers have never completed a Certificate III in Fire Protection (CPC32813).

I have attached a copy of the subjects covered by the Certificate III in Fire Protection (Appendix C, and Appendix D) that provides information to substantiate our claim that the current training framework DOES NOT support the annexure of “routine servicing” within the definition of “fire protection work” of the Regulations.

To assist in understanding this, I have also included the following summary of the subjects specifically related to “Routine Servicing” within CPC32813 - Certificate III in Fire Protection;

There are 53 potential subjects available to people undertaking CPC32813 - Certificate III in Fire Protection. Of these 31 (53%) are CORE subjects and 22 (42%) are ELECTIVES. Taking this further approximately only 9% of the course content has some relationship to routine servicing, of which 60% is an elective to people undertaking the course.

What can you do?

The Fire Protection Association Australia ("FPA Australia") has produced a letter to advise us of the changes, to help you work with your fire protection service provider to secure future service delivery, and to encourage you to contact the Victorian Government to express your concerns about the new Plumbing Regulations 2018.

FPA Australia also strongly encourages you to contact your local MP to discuss your concerns about the new Plumbing Regulations 2018, as well as the following Victorian Government representatives;

Hon Richard Wynne – Minister for Planning
Postal Address: Shop 6, 232 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Email: richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: (03) 9415 8901

John Bradley – Secretary, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Postal Address: PO Box 500, East Melbourne, VIC 8002
Email: john.bradley@delwp.vic.gov.au
Phone: (03) 9637 8765

Sue Eddy – Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Building Authority
Postal Address: Goods Shed North, 733 Bourke Street, Docklands, VIC 3008
Email: http://www.vba.vic.gov.au/about/contact
Phone: 1300 815 127

Your local MP
Search for and contact your local member of government by using the the following link;
https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/electorates

Summary

I hope this article provide you more information as well as further facts on these specific and unnecessary changes to the regulations. If you want to know more, drop us a message via Facebook Messenger via this link; http://m.me/firewize or contact the Fire Protection Association Australia.

Russ

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