After starting his career in the sheet metal industry, Grant Thompson joined Wormald as a fire door tester. You could say Grant followed in the footsteps of his father George who spent 15 years with Wormald as a fire door installer. Grant is now in his 11th year with Wormald, currently working as a Portable Fire Equipment Tester.
How did you start working for Wormald?
I actually trained as a sheet metal worker and before joining Wormald held various roles as a metal roofer and scaffolder – I even spent time as a personal trainer. I was looking for a new opportunity when Wormald was recruiting and accepted a role as a fire door tester. Things have since progressed from there.
Tell us about your current role and responsibilities
As a Portable Fire Equipment Tester for the south Sydney region, I am on the road every day, visiting customers from Mascot to Engadine and everywhere in between. Businesses are required to undertake routine portable fire equipment tests twice a year including fire hose reels and fire extinguishers, to ensure they comply with Australian Standards.
I have worked with many different organisations across various industries over the years. Some of my long-term customers include Sydney Airport, University of New South Wales and Sydney University. There are some customers, such as News Limited, that I’ve worked with for the entire time I’ve been at Wormald. While I started out doing fire doors, I’m now responsible for testing portable fire equipment. This can be particularly beneficial for organisations where security and consistency is important, as customers prefer working with a technician they already know and have established a relationship with.
What do you enjoy about working at Wormald and the fire protection industry?
I really enjoy being on the road and meeting people from different industries, from University professors, to the local fish and chip shop manager. Every business is required to have portable fire equipment in place as the first line of defense in a fire, and it is mandatory to have them routinely tested, no matter how big or small they are.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry?
The efficiency of our daily work has really evolved thanks to new technology. While paperwork is still very important, working with handheld smart devices and apps that provide immediate access to information, as well as electronic service dockets and quotes, definitely make completing the job, and our interaction with customers easier. Being able to provide digital records is another way we can help our customers keep on top of their compliance requirements.
When it comes to compliance, what issues do you see most in your role?
People are more stringent about fire protection now and seem to get things done more quickly than in previous years. The trend with portable equipment and compliance is keeping up with their requirements, for example ensuring pressure test change-overs happen regularly.
However, we are also making compliance a lot easier for customers. For instance, when we test portables and identify faults, we can now write up the notification and quote the customer instantly. This means that the customer can approve the repair or replacement and have the work completed on the spot. Wormald technicians always carry a range of extinguishers and fire blankets in the van, so if anything needs to be changed-over we can do it immediately before we leave.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Dealing with a lot of businesses, I find it sad to see the increasing number of smaller, local manufacturers being forced out of business as production and manufacturing moves overseas. Local businesses are finding it a challenge to compete with the cheaper prices offered by international manufacturers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
As a father of two who works six days a week, I’m usually pretty busy managing my job and looking after the family. I enjoy spending time with my two kids and keeping up with their different activities and commitments – from soccer, dancing, gymnastics, tutoring, it often feels like I’m a taxi service! However, luckily I work fairly flexible hours, often starting at 5am which means I can pick my daughter up and take her wherever she needs to go after school.
I also enjoy going to the gym and like fast cars – I’ve been driving a Jeep for about 3 years, a V8 which I love.