Glen Harris is based at our Coffs Harbour office and is a technician as well as one of only two Competent Fire Safety Practitioners (CFSP) for our Northern NSW area. Along with his other normal day to day duties, he is one of our busiest technicians in the area as an increasing number of businesses require assessment and certification for their annual fire safety statements to achieve compliance.
How did you start working for Wormald?
I grew up in Wollongong, south of Sydney and completed an electrical apprenticeship at MM Metals Port Kembla when I left school. I then moved into the fire industry in 1989 after accepting a role with Safeguard Fire Systems, owned by Tyco at the time. I worked across multiple roles as an installation technician, in equipment testing, service and maintenance then sales and estimating before becoming team leader and then supervisor.
I worked in Sydney for 14 years but after visiting friends and holidaying at Coffs Harbour, my wife and I decided we could easily see ourselves living there. When I saw Wormald advertising for a technician at the Coffs Harbour branch, we took the opportunity to make a sea change move. We’ve been here ever since and we are still loving the area.
Explain your current role and responsibilities
I am one of two technicians at Wormald Coffs Harbour. We are very busy doing everything from sales and estimating, inspections, testing, service and general business management for our national customers.
As one of the two CFSPs in the area, I am also responsible for ensuring businesses around Northern NSW have their required annual certification completed and signed off. Up until December 2017, building owners were signing off their own annual fire safety statements which resulted in a lot of compliance issues. Changes to legislation since then now require CFSPs to be accredited through the Fire Protection Association of Australia.
Getting accreditation is a time-consuming process, there are around 30 fire safety measure tests to be taken online, and applicants must receive 70 per cent to pass. The license is renewed annually and is a big undertaking.
What do you enjoy about working at Wormald?
In Coffs Harbour, we are exposed to a very diverse range of fire systems and locations which ensures no day is the same at work. There are still plenty of buildings with old-school systems as well as the latest addressable fire systems and vehicle suppression systems in our area which provides plenty of opportunity for us to keep our skills up to date and also learn something new.
One day I could be testing fire products in a residential building, the next I could be on the Clarence River in an aluminum runabout chasing a barge that needs a suppression system serviced, or driving up a mountain to service a transmission tower site. Servicing an area as big as Northern NSW requires lots of travel and long car rides, which I enjoy because I get to see more of the countryside that I wouldn’t see otherwise.
The sense of community in Coffs Harbour is also fantastic, you get to know your customers personally because you run into them everywhere. A number of clients have kids the same age as my daughter and we see them on weekends while surfing or out shopping.
What trends or issues are you seeing in the fire industry today?
As fire regulations continue to become more stringent in Australia, the need for more CFSPs and technicians is growing. Fire compliance has also become a lot more important in terms of certifying the ongoing performance of fire safety measures in buildings.
I have also seen a big change in the complexity of fire panels and detectors, including the introduction of more microprocessor-based systems, networked fire systems and the ability to program fire panels to do just about anything you want. When I started over 30 years ago, a lot of fire panels were just bunches of relays in a box on the wall.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love getting outdoors with my daughter and being a parent helper for her cub scout group. We get to go out bike riding, bush walking, canoeing and overnight camping. I also enjoy getting out around our property with my wife and daughter and working in the garden, building things around the house, and spending time with the family at the beach.