Veteran scaffolder and scaffolding instructor, Fran Michna retired on November 21, 2016 receiving an award from Dave Mosley Director of Training NASC (National Access & Scaffolding Confederation). Fran has accumulated over 40 years of experience and for anyone that has worked with or been taught by Fran he will not be forgotten.
Fran spent the latter 15 years of his career with NETA Training (NETA) as an CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme) instructor after having to give up working on the tools following a serious motorcycle accident in the mid 1990s.
NETA interviewed Fran. He told NETA that one of his most notable career paths was working as a roadie with the likes of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, REM, the Rolling Stones, including him delivering an off stage pep talk to Ozzy Osbourne at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in the former Soviet Union.
After being told by a doctor that he would never work as a scaffolder again after his accident Fran retrained and began another career in instructing. “The thing with scaffolding is you get your cowboys that just throw it up and think that will do, but it has to be right,” Fran told NETA.
“You have to be strict because what you are teaching is dangerous. When you are 300 foot in the air, you have to know what you are doing and you have to have your wits about you.”
Fran described tube and fitting as, “The best system in the world. You can build anything with it.”
Michael Allan, scaffolding training co-ordinator at NETA where Fran spent in total 15 years of his career, said, “Fran Michna has been a figure head in scaffolding for a number of years and he has always been heard of. Wherever you go people know Fran.
He has been an absolute pleasure to work with and I have learnt a lot from him that hopefully I can pass down in the training area. Fran leaves a legacy of tales behind him and no doubt will still be heard of for years to come.”
We asked Fran some questions too. And, typically he provided some insightful answers.
Q: What got you into scaffolding and why did you stay? Fran: “I was working in a boring job at the Vauxhall car factory in Luton when my friend Stefan saw an ad for scaffolders’ labourers at the Arndale Centre. I stayed in scaffolding because I liked the physical graft, the camaraderie and the money.”
Q: What was the high point in your scaffolding career? Fran: “Too many to mention but some of the best were: Working at the Moscow Music Peace Festival, the first outdoor rock and roll festival in the Soviet Union. Working with the Rolling Stones. Designing and building the set for Doctor Marigold at the Arc theatre in Stockton. The set was inspired by a picture by M C Escher.”
Q: What do you wish could have worked out better in your scaffolding career? Fran: “Physical injuries from a motorbike accident prevented my continuing ‘on the spanners’. Although it led to a new career as a scaffolding instructor/assessor, it meant I missed out on the Oasis tour in 1996.”
Q: What is, in your opinion, the biggest change in the industry? Fran: “The volume of academic components in scaffolding training.”
Q: What changes would you like to see in the scaffolding industry? Fran: “Get rid of the NVQ and go back to BS5973.”
Thank you for your service Fran. We wish you a long a happy retirement.