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FIA joins Zitko Talent alliance in bid to nurture next generation of fire protection engineers

10 December 2020

THE FIRE Industry Association (FIA) has unveiled details of its participation as a founding member in a new, industry-wide initiative that’s specifically designed to attract and develop a new generation of fire protection engineers.

Zitko Talent is an alliance of leading manufacturers, installation companies and educators whose constituents will be providing an intensive 12-month programme of salaried work experience, training and development. The programme is suitable for a wide-ranging audience, from college leavers and career changers right through to engineers from other sectors wishing to cross-train. In practice, trainees combine front line installation experience with intensive training and education customised to their specific workplace.

The FIA will be the principal training provider for all aspects relating to fire. This will include adapting courses for individual employers and their trainees, duly drawing on an extensive catalogue that includes BS 5839 Fundamentals and the Advanced Fire Detection and Alarms-focused qualifications.

For employers, it’s an opportunity to attract and develop new talent far more efficiently and cost-effectively than they could ever do so alone, with all training sourced and administered centrally as part of the fee.

Employers who are FIA members will qualify for a 20% programme discount. The programme fee is normally £10,000 per trainee so, in point of fact, that represents a saving of almost £2,000 for every trainee taken on.

Reasoning behind the move

Back in 2018-2019, the FIA conducted surveys in which employers revealed they need fire detection and alarm technicians, making it clear that there’s a real and urgent need for skills in this area. This applies to new entrants to the industry as well as experienced engineers.

Finding suitably qualified individuals is somewhat difficult as the surveys suggested. On that basis, the FIA is “delighted” to be able to provide the training programme that supports individuals in the industry with the skills development they need to become competent fire systems technicians.

Partnering with Zitko Talent affords the FIAA the opportunity to promote the fire industry to a wide audience, including talented young people who are undoubtedly going to assist in shaping the future of the sector. Ultimately, it’s all about helping to deliver a lasting solution that addresses the looming skills shortage.

The programme provides a solid launchpad for developing and employing high calibre engineers long-term, starting in the fields of installation and commissioning. It also offers a thoroughly vetted pool of trainees from which to choose. Over 160 hours of “world-class education” is on offer, including the FIA’s Portable Fire Extinguisher Maintenance courses.

There will also be up to 150 hours of manufacturer-certified product training in up to six of the systems used within the host business. All training administration is taken care of by the Zitko Talent team.

Professional standards

Speaking about the news, Ian Moore (CEO at the FIA) stated: “I’m delighted that we’re taking part in the Zitko Talent programme. It affords us the opportunity to promote the fire safety industry to a wider audience, including talented young people who are the future of our industry. We’ll also be working with our partners on another key aspect of our mission, which is championing and continually raising the bar on professional standards.”

Moore added: “The key reason why I’m behind this programme is that it’s about bringing people in from outside of the fire safety industry and not ‘fishing in the same pond’. Undoubtedly, it will also help to deliver a lasting solution to the looming skills shortage.”

George Zitko (managing director at Zitko Talent) informed Fire Safety Matters: “Zitko Talent has been three years in the making and, from the start, we viewed the FIA’s involvement as being essential. The organisation’s role as our fire training partner provides access to the sector’s ‘Gold Standard’ training, with courses such as the BS 5839 Fundamentals and Advanced Fire Detection and Alarms included in the Zitko Talent fee. I’m thoroughly looking forward to working with the FIA on developing the next generation of fire engineers.”

*Further information is available on the Zitko Talent website