Meet Jamie Gale, Technical Officer at the Fire Industry Association (FIA). Discover Jamie's inspiring journey becoming a leading figure in fire detection and alarm systems. Learn about his dedication to ensuring industry competency, his career milestones, and his goals for the future.

23 April 2024 by Charlotte Brill, Content Marketing Executive

I’m Jamie Gale, Technical Officer at the Fire Industry Association, and the newest member of the technical team. I joined the FIA in October 2023, having already been a contract trainer for 12 months prior.

I started my working life in the hospitality industry, working my way up to the management level in various bars and nightclubs, before changing track and commencing an electrical apprenticeship. Throughout my apprenticeship and after qualifying, regardless of the company I worked for, I was always tasked with leading the fire detection and fire alarm system installation for each project.

After working for various electrical contractors throughout Lincolnshire (and further afield), in 2018 I finally decided to set up my own company providing design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of life safety systems to the industry. A lot of my work came from subcontracting to electrical contractors I had previously been employed by, as well as new introductions and forming new business relationships.

It was around this time that I immersed myself onto the FIA pathway to the advanced qualifications, funding them through my business. Fast forward to October 2022, alongside my business, I became an external contract trainer for the FIA delivering the BS 5839-1 Fundamentals training course. Following this, I was later offered the split Technical Officer & Trainer role, which I accepted, seeing this as a major opportunity for me to progress.

On a personal note, I live in Skegness with my wife and 3 children (all boys), with my spare time taken up transporting them to and from their various activities with me managing to squeeze the odd round of golf in between that.

What initially attracted you to join the fire industry?

Having a practical installation background, I was always the one responsible for the installation of FD&A systems. Previous colleagues always felt “lumbered” with it, whereas I enjoyed immersing myself with the different types of systems and technology.

Reflecting on your life so far, what achievement or milestone are you most proud of, and why?

Becoming a parent aside, I am most proud of the fact that I finally grew the courage to start my own business and that I made a success of it. With a young family, it wasn’t an easy decision to make, leaving behind the security of a regular wage, and stepping into the potentially unknown, but I believed in my ability to make it work and through hard graft, it did!

How can the fire industry be improved and what does it need for this to happen?

There needs to be a greater drive towards ensuring the individuals carrying out FD&A system works are competent people. It is quite alarming (no pun intended) that there are still too many individuals “playing with life safety” by having a go and not understanding why they’re doing what they are doing, and why their works should be carried out to meet a certain standard. 

We already have third-party certification for companies, which goes toward proving the competency of companies, and thankfully we now also have the FIA TAP scheme, which (although still in its development stage) is designed to be a competency verification scheme of an individual technicians relevant training and qualifications, allowing end users that peace of mind that the technician in their premises is competent, providing them with additional peace of mind. I believe we also need to ensure the younger generation of technicians already working in the industry progress, whilst also making the industry appear more appealing to continuously attract younger talent.

In the next five years, do you have any career goals within the fire industry, and what steps are you taking to reach them?

I would like to undertake all and everything that is available to me training wise to further develop myself, as no one knows everything. Every day is a school day, and you never stop learning. The FIA has a lot of opportunities to get involved with working groups and councils alongside other experienced industry professionals which will only help to strengthen and broaden my knowledge further.

What's the most valuable piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting their career, in the industry?

Immerse yourself into reading various Standards to ensure a good knowledge base, don’t be afraid to ask questions to those more experienced around you and get yourself onto FIA and manufacturer training. Oh, and lastly, (personal hate of mine) put your phone away. I used to hate apprentices being on their phones when they should have been concentrating or working.

What is the most important area of work that the FIA is involved with (for you and the overall industry - if different)?

The FIA has a wide range of involvements including (but not limited to) training, research projects, working groups and councils. Everything the association is involved with helps to improve our industry and fire safety in general, so I’d find it quite difficult to pick one singular thing. For me though the part I enjoy the most is providing technical support to the membership alongside getting into the classroom to deliver training. Knowing that you’re helping people with their queries, and actually making a difference by teaching someone the correct way to do something is rewarding.

What is your favourite hobby or personal interest outside of work?

Golf – Until the kids get older, I’m limited in the time I can find to get out on the course, but when I do, it’s nice to “attempt” to play. A round for me goes one of two ways, it’s either the best way to spoil a good walk, or I play a blinder of a game. There’s never a happy medium. Not with me anyway. If you have a bad round though, at least there’s always the 19th hole (a beer in the clubhouse for those of you not in the know) to look forward to!

What superpower would you have and why?

Invisibility- I’m sure there could be lots of mischief and pranks to be had!

If you could go anywhere in the world for a holiday for three months all expenses paid, where would you go and why?

I would have to say America – a multi destination trip. I’ve done Orlando several times, along with Las Vegas, but I’d like to visit other states, and finish with a week in Vegas “cause the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big, then you take the house”. (Bonus point if you can name the film!)

If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner – who would they be?

Gordon Ramsey – Well, someone needs to cook (Certainly won’t be me!) and having been to several of his restaurants here in the UK and in the US, I love his food.

The Kray twins (They’re twins, that can count as one, right?) – I like the whole London gangster scene and its history. They would have a few stories to tell.

Guy Ritchie – I’m a big fan of his films, my two favourites being Lock Stock and the Two Smoking Barrels, and The Gentlemen.

I don’t think I’d be short of conversation with any of those choices.