WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? - UPDATED
AN OPEN LETTER TO ASTTBC.
“Promises were like laws; smart men knew when to break both.” -- C. J. Hill
“One can talk good and shower down roses, but it's the receiver that has to walk through the thorns, and all the false expectations.” -- Anthony Liccione
“Don't make any promises that you can't keep.” -- Ann Marie Aguilar
Vancouver, British Columbia - Living and working as a fire alarm Verifier in the Lower Mainland, I find myself in a rather unique position of having been able to observe ASTTBC’s Fire Protection Registration Program from the outside as well as participating, to some extent, in a number of technician compliance issues over the years.
The message contained within the email disseminated to the membership which advertised the two roles that would serve to co-manage the Program (following Brian Stegavig’s departure) was, at least to me, very disturbing. It suggested that the “status quo” would continue and that no additional time for engagement with the Board and Membership for the important work required to actually fulfill the program’s promised obligations has been allocated. I sincerely hope I’ve misinterpreted this as we move forward following the appointments of two imminently qualified, and well respected individuals:
Dave Burgess – Retired Fire Chief for the City of North Vancouver – is the newly appointed ASTTBC Program Manager, Fire Protection Technician Registration
NOTE: It should be noted that Bob Furlong assumed this position as of January 2015 following Dave Burgess’ departure to join the District of North Vancouver’s Fire Department.
May 2016 - Karen McDiarmid has been appointed the ASTTBC Program Manager, Fire Protection Technician Registration. Bob Furlong has assumed the role of Program Advisor.
Dave Clou – Retired Chief Fire Prevention Officer for the City of Richmond – is the newly appointed ASTTBC Fire Protection Program Compliance Officer
May 2016 - Ron Hein is ASTTBC’s Fire Protection Program Compliance Officer..
Both individuals are stellar choices and are still actively involved in several professional associations and local educational initiatives.
For over fifteen years I have watched ASTTBC attempt to achieve what the City of Vancouver believed they would provide (that belief is articulated in the adoption of every Municipal Bylaw which has enacted the requirement for formal Registration since the Programs inception). For over fifteen years I have watched successive Fire Protection Program Managers fail to achieve this mandate (and this is in no way due to their own lack of diligence, passion or drive).
For over fifteen years there has been a fundamental disconnect between what was originally envisioned in the form of the promises which are still articulated on your website, and what the Program continues to deliver. For over fifteen years there has been a similar disconnect between what an individual learns in the classroom and what they finally put into practice as a Registered Fire Protection Technician.
But the ultimate disappointment was made manifest in the radio advertisement you’ve been featuring recently. The Fire Protection Program isn’t even mentioned! What sort of message does this deliver to the more than 800 Registered Fire Protection Technicians (RFPT’s) that pay your dues? Your technician members, indeed the entire Program, relegated to the “back burner”. And these are the individuals you have charged with protecting the public!
The Program is at the tipping point and must either deliver on what ASTTBC originally committed to do, or it will continue to be viewed by its membership as just a “money grab”, and by many Jurisdictional Authorities as a nicely packaged website of broken promises that still include:
- Professional development
- Improved standards of practice
- A method of ensuring that Registered Technicians perform to the Practice Guideline and Code of Ethics
- Levelling the playing field
I, for one, believe these promises can be fulfilled, and more. I believe that Province-wide accreditation for the Program can be achieved through a renewed commitment by ASTTBC’s Board and membership.
Firstly, the Program’s Manager must be able to liaise and engage more fully with technicians, employers, instructors, various Jurisdictional Authorities, the public, the Province and the Board. The flow of information to the membership and the stakeholders I’ve mentioned must be frequent, more open and unquestionably transparent.
Secondly, the confrontational approach to member discipline (a genuine fear which the role of a dedicated compliance officer engenders) should be avoided and used only where no other reasonable method or system can drive the necessary changes needed. You must, instead, strive to mentor all of your RFPT’s in order to change their perception of the organization and earn their trust as a full partner in their professional development. ASTTBC is (unlike CFAA) a technician based and driven organization.
How are you going to ensure success within the ongoing “part time structure” which you have suggested will continue for the individuals you have charged with your technician members oversight? Quite simply, you cannot. The key to success turns on the time and resources you are prepared (and should) commit to the Program. More-over, you can’t expect your membership to perform to the level expected by the Practice Guideline in a vacuum.