Vancouver - October 2nd, 2010 - By Frank Kurz
In the last few months I have been working with a stellar bunch of individuals and feel particularly privileged to Chair the Working Group meetings for CAN/ULC-S536 and CAN/ULC-S537 (Canadian Fire Alarm Inspection and Fire Alarm Verification Standards) in which we share our expertise and knowledge. It’s been an eye-opening and exciting experience and I look forward to the day that you guys get to see the results of the team’s hard work and effort.
I believe that improvement can be found in everything we do and see. I believe that (as Francis Bacon said) “Knowledge is Power”. This also happens to be the key phrase used in the lead up to CFAA’s 2nd BC Seminar being held in Vancouver on October 14th.
I can see honest effort being made by CFAA to disseminate knowledge but how many of you can actually afford to dish out the $184.80 (HST included) to attend this landmark annual function, let alone lose a day of productive employment? I’ve been reading that almost 60% of working Canadians carry a credit card debt of over $40,000 and that many would be in serious financial trouble if they missed just ONE paycheque. That’s frightening! University students particularly are saddled with enormous debt at the start of their chosen careers and many succumb to bankruptcy or court managed debt restructuring as a means “to get out from under” because finding a job in this economy is next to impossible and the banks demand repayment regardless.
What solution is on the horizon? Can we rely on Government to bail us out or is our society heading down the route of the mindset of the individual that coined the phrase “in God we trust, everyone else pays cash”?
I’ve always viewed the fire equipment service industry as fairly recession proof for, after all, the buildings which require annual inspection and maintenance will continue to do so even when the national economy “tanks”. The issue that concerns me is that as the number of commercial vacancies increase, the owners and managers of those buildings are starting to look for ways to economize and this opens the door for many individuals (and the companies that employ them) that won’t scruple to compromise proper inspection practice in order to provide a cheaper, more attractive alternative with a view to getting a bigger slice of the pie.
After all, a “tag” is a “tag”, isn’t it?
Who’s to say whether one of the big national’s tags is any better (or worse) than one from a locally based business? Right now, what separates companies like this is something called “overhead”, and not necessarily the quality (or quantity) of the registered (or certified) technicians in their employ. Longevity in the industry, whether from the standpoint of a company or from the view of the technician it employs, doesn’t necessarily equate to “knowledge” or a higher level of professional practice. Chubb Edwards, Simplex Grinnell, Siemens, Viking, and other national companies have to charge more because they support a corporate infrastructure most of us can only dream about being part of. They pay the best wages and offer the best in employee benefits.