Find out more about our Founder – Robert (Bob) Short

At Fire & Emergency Services SA

Bob founded Fire & Emergency Services SA in 2000 when his previous employer the State Government closed the division of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service that serviced fire equipment.

In 2005 he relocated to the Yorke Peninsula as part of his transition to retirement.

The focus of Bob’s current role is coordinating our activities in the Yorke Peninsula, Clare and Burra Areas.  We work in these areas under the branding of YP Fire and Safety.


Over Half a Century in the Industry

Bob started as a draftsman in England at the age of 16 designing fire sprinkler systems.  He worked for numerous companies in England as a designer, project manager, fire system product developer and manufacturing manager until 1979 when he migrated with his family to Australia.

Upon arriving in Australia Bob started as the State Manager of Fire Fighting Enterprises fixed systems division – now part of Chubb Fire and Safety.  Some of the better known South Australian Buildings that he worked on include the then State Bank building (now Westpac House), the recently decommissioned Port Augusta Power Station and the Whyalla LPG plant.

In 1987 Bob moved to Australian Fire Services as the chief designer and contract manager.  Some of the well known projects that he was responsible for include Cellarmasters at Barrossa, Hollywood Plaza Shopping Centre and the Norwood Place Shopping Centre.

In mid 1990’s he worked for a couple of years at Bestec as a fire protection consultant.  The most prominent building he worked on during this period was the Monarto Woolworth Distribution Centre

In 1998 he joined Fire Equipment Services (FES), a division of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service, to teach the existing fire service technicians how to test fire sprinkler and alarm systems.


The rest of his life

Bob is married with 4 children and 7 grandchildren. His family are spread across the Barossa, Adelaide and Melbourne. His eldest, Alan, is the current Managing Director at Fire & Emergency Services SA.

“Have a DREAM for your FUTURE”

Bob is passionate about having a dream, a vision for your future.  At the Age of 10 he had a dream … to fish from his back yard.

Living in London this was a fanciful dream that was unlikely to come true.  But at the age of 60 he achieved this dream by building a new home on the Marina at Wallaroo.  If you call him in the afternoon you will often hear the slapping of the water on the hull of his boat as he whittles away the end of the day fishing.

His other passion is magic.  Give him half a chance and he will show you a magic trick.  If you want to see him in action go to his YouTube channel to catch him in action!

In 2016 Bob also received two awards for his mentoring of children at the Port Wakefield and Wallaoro Primary Schools.  Bob has been a mentor for school children for 8 years.  For some of these mentees Bob is the only positive male role model that these children have in their lives.  We are sure that their lives have irrevocably improved through spending time with him.


Rapid Fire Questions with Bob

Why did you join the fire protection industry?

I always wanted to work on a drawing board.  After I left school I started looking for jobs and saw an advert for a drafting job.  I applied for the job and was successful.  The job was designing fire sprinkler systems on a drafting board.  Before I started the job I knew nothing about the fire industry, now I can’t imagine working in any other industry.

So I guess you could say the industry found me!.

What changes have you seen in the fire protection industry in over half a century?

The evolution of technology has been incredible.  Day by day you don’t notice many differences, but when you look back to when I started the changes are incredible.

When I started you prepared a design on a drafting board using pencil, pen and film.  If you made a mistake or the design changed you used a scapple to delete the pen work or threw it out and started again.  Now it’s all done on computers using programs like AutoCAD.  If you’re wanting to make a change its simple.

I have also seen the way fire sprinkler systems are installed get easier.  For example tools have gone from manual operation to electric operation and there have been new technologies, such as roll grooved couplings.  All of these have combined to make the installation quicker and more efficient.

And the evolution of fire detection systems defies belief.  The old panels were basic and rudimentary electrical devices.  The modern panels are now computers.  This increases the information available to identify problems as well as allowing more complexity in design to match our evolving buildings.

Don’t get me started about the phone.  When I started if you wanted someone you called the office, if they weren’t there you left a message and waited for them to get back … now we are all available all the time on our mobile phones.

What do you think makes FESSA different to other Fire Protection Maintenance Companies?


I have created the company to be like a family, sure Alan and I are in charge but everyone has a say in how we improve things and everyone is important. It’s not some corporate hierarchy.

We also work cooperatively to get the job done.  Everyone can and will do all that is required to service our customers.  At 72 I’m still servicing fire equipment!

But most importantly it’s how we treat our customers.  We treat customers as people not a source of money.  We are interested about them, what’s happening in their lives at work and away from work.

What is your biggest concern with the industry?

When I started work you went through a process of on the job training and mentoring.  Now I see so many people entering the industry with little or no training.  The potential risk to life is huge if people incorrectly maintaining fire sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems.

I am glad that the Fire Protection Association (FPA) Australia has started the Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme (FPAS). We have worked hard to get all of our staff accredited under this scheme.
If ever you want a magic show for free then make sure you drop buy the office when Bob is around!

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