Former Fireman Wilburn (yes, really) is now at the helm of the relaunched RFS Fire and Building Compliance in Whanganui.

The Bartley Group purchased the business from Phillips Electrical in March this year and rebranded it as RFS Fire and Building Compliance. The long-standing business was previously known as Richdale Fire and Security.

Along with relocating to premises in Wilson St and buying a new fleet of vehicles, Bartley Group head Rob Bartley has brought in ex-Aucklander Mark Wilburn as general manager.

Mr Wilburn brings a wealth of experience in the fire industry.


"I spent 17 years in the fire service, the first 10 as a volunteer and then seven as a paid firefighter," Mr Wilburn said.

"I left in 1997 and started working in the fire protection side of the industry. I worked for Wormalds then Total Fire as their key account manager for the Auckland City Council portfolio. Total Fire was rebranded as AFS Total and I spent nine years as national service manager, looking after 42 employees from Auckland to Christchurch.

"In 2013 I got sick and after having treatment I made a change of lifestyle. I moved to First Fire as building and compliance manager with 12 staff in the Auckland region."

In late 2016 Mr Wilburn came to Whanganui to advise Richdale Fire and Security on using software that he had implemented in two companies in Auckland. He returned again in May this year for a week of consultancy work and was then offered the role of general manager which he began in July.

"My wife and I had decided we wanted to look at a life change," Mr Wilburn said.

"It's come a lot sooner than expected but we decided to make the most of the opportunity I was offered. My wife is still working in Auckland but she hopes to come to Whanganui permanently about Christmas.

"Part of the reason for the change was to reduce my work hours. I was doing 70-plus hours a week and 10 of those was travelling to and from work. That travel time has reduced to five minutes. The pace and lifestyle is a lot more relaxed and I'm really enjoying that."

RFS, the only dedicated fire company based in Whanganui, has seven (soon to be eight) full-time staff and two part-time administrators. Services include fire alarm systems, sprinklers, emergency lighting, fire inspections, fire/smoke separation and a 24/7 callout service.

"We do a lot of extinguishers and testing and training in fire extinguisher use," Mr Wilburn said.

"We do trial evacuation schemes and training for fire wardens. Changes in legislation have had a massive impact on building owners' responsibilities. We are here to save them the hassle of doing that all themselves."

The company is aiming to expand in the Whanganui area and also wants to move into Hawera and Palmerston North.

It has a focus on increasing training and the quality of service provided, bringing more modern technology to the business and improving health and safety and quality management system processes.

"The investment Rob Bartley and the Bartley Group has put into the business has been amazing. He is giving us the resources and tools to do our job confidently and comfortably."

The revamped business was officially relaunched at a function on Friday, September 22.