The SAQCC Fire was hugely challenged since lock down to guide technicians through these strenuous times while it simultaneously had to balance the safety of its staff and still render an effective service to the competent persons.
Our first challenge was to approach the Department of Employment and Labour during level 5 and 4 regarding the interpretation of essential services and the fire industry. Fortunately we could come to an agreement early on that fire companies did render an essential service and the information was published on our website regarding what companies and technicians were allowed to do under which levels. Our staff was set up to work from home and fielded many calls to update persons on an ongoing basis.
Since level 1, our staff moved back to our offices and is operating in full force although visitors are still not allowed. The Board of Directors and sub committees have since found new ways of dealing with Covid restrictions including very effective online meetings and also having our AGM on the virtual platform. Thus all operations and interactions with the government and other bodies such as the certification bodies, QCTO and SANAS have been fully operational on the virtual platform.
Our disciplinary sub-committee has been fully operational since April and has been busier than ever before with 12 hearings that have since been held. The chair has actively tackled complaints received and ensured that through effective investigations and fact gathering many of these hearings resulted in guilty findings and penalties.
What is of most concern is that the technicians who have been called in seemed to have had no understanding of the seriousness of their offences! In two instances, technicians were called to a second hearing for an identical offence which happened within two weeks of their original hearing. Eventually, both these cases were heard “in absentia” which means they have not defended themselves – and this has led to the most serious of consequences for both of them.
Another concerning factor is three instances where the company owner, who is also a technician, has been allowing the use of his number by non-registered personnel. These have been treated with the utmost concern as it seems the person involved has a complete disregard for the safety of his personnel and the customers whose equipment they are servicing.
The number of cases of illegal servicing in particular as well as shoddy workmanship and non-compliance to the relevant standard are on the increase with daily complaints being received. Companies as well as technicians must be aware that not only are competitors checking up on each other, but the public and the end users, in other words clients such as property management companies and others, are better educated on regulations, which have led to the huge increase in complaints.