This month Simon Banks talks to Stephen Adams, Chief Executive of BAFE, the independent register of quality fire safety service providers.
How has the competency of fire alarm engineers changed based on the Hackitt report?
BAFE registered providers continue to represent the highest levels of competency, having done so long before the Hackitt report. To answer your question however, nothing has changed on BAFE’s front, although we do regularly analyse all our schemes to ensure they remain the best representation of competency. With all schemes, changes do happen,
especially when there are changes to British Standards, but none have occurred solely based on the Hackitt report. We will continue to monitor this, as BAFE is involved in several working groups set up after the report.
Jonathan O’Neill OBE, FPA Managing Director, recently stated at the NSI Summit that UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification is a “no brainer”. “To me, Third Party Certification is the easiest and simplest way for a specifier or end user to have the assurance they require that the chosen supplier is fit for purpose or competent… the mandatory use of third-party accredited products and services for fire protection should be a given.” We at BAFE completely agree with this statement and with well respected bodies such as the FSF, FPA, FIA and IFEDA supporting third-party certification, it is getting far more difficult to refute.
How has BAFE’s wider role in the industry changed over the past few years?
Over the last ten years, BAFE has evolved into the important role of monitoring competency of installers and maintainers of multiple services within the fire safety arena. Manufacturing standards are no longer in our remit, although our schemes always specify the use of third-party certificated products. Installation and services were not regulated to a point where an end-user could find competent providers to undertake their requirements.
This is where BAFE stepped up and has reviewed existing schemes – and established new ones – to best validate an organisation’s competency to deliver these works. We now have over 1,600 registrations to our schemes, a fivefold increase over the last 10 years. We are incredibly proud of where we have managed to establish BAFE within the industry and will strive to continue this development. We regularly promote the importance of UKAS accredited, third-party certification to as wide an audience as possible. Educating end users of this is paramount to BAFE’s ongoing progress.
Where do Fire regulations stop and building regulations start?
This is an interesting question, as the answer should be that they crossover 100%. However, recent events have shown us that this is not the case and competency in the fire safety realm is a key word arising from the Hackitt report and consequently the groups created from this. Fire Regulations are an integral part of the built environment and cannot be overlooked either for new build or during the life of a building – we can never forget that we are
always considering life safety.
A pure risk assessment is a report of the state of the building at that moment in time. The report doesn’t remove the risk of fire, but all subsequent actions by the responsible person mitigate this risk. Stronger links between the building process and the ongoing fire safety, combined with a higher level of competency must be demanded to help develop a safer UK. This is what Dame Judith called the ‘Golden Thread’ of information
and fire safety cannot be ignored by any of the participants in the life of a building.
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