In December 2017 Dame Judith Hackitt (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) presented an interim report to Parliament as part of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety process.
In her introduction, Dame Hackitt (the former Chair of the Health and Safety Executive) expresses her view that change control and quality assurance are poor throughout the process going on to say, “What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking.”
The report suggests “a widespread culture in relation to building and fire standards of waiting to be told what to do by regulators rather than taking responsibility for building to correct standards. The approach is very much driven by aiming for minimum compliance, not ensuring safety for the lifetime of the building”
The underlying reasons identified includes,
the current regulations and guidance being too complex and unclear,
clarity of roles and responsibilities is poor,
the means of assessing and ensuring the competency of key people throughout the system is inadequate,
Compliance, enforcement and sanctions processes are too weak,
the system of product testing, marketing and quality assurance is not clear
To focus on the competency of key staff regarding fire risk assessment, currently, fire risk assessors undertaking risk assessments on complex and high-risk buildings there are no statutory registration or accreditation requirements. The interim report recommends among other things that there is a need to raise levels of competence and establish formal accreditation of those engaged in the fire prevention.
In the UK Fire Industry there are “Third Party Certification Schemes” and “Professional Registers”.
The concept of third party certification schemes is recommended in almost all the current fire safety guidance documents available to the industry. Firerite have recognised the value and importance of offering this reassurance to its customers for many years and holds third-party certification to:-
NSI “Gold” BAFE SP 205 part 1 “Life safety fire risk assessments”
The above scheme is awarded by The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) who are recognised as the leading certification body for the security and fire protection sectors in the UK.
BAFE develops schemes to support quality standards for fire protection companies to achieve and become third party certified. This certification award is backed by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service UKAS
BAFE SP205 is an industry standard for companies undertaking fire risk assessments. It sets out criteria and requirements for not only the competency of those carrying out the risk assessments, but the competency of those who review and ‘sign off’ the reports before they are issued. It also makes requirements for the company’s quality management standards with the highest award “Gold” standard linked to conformity with ISO 9001.
Achieving certification involves a rigorous examination and assessment by the 3rd party certification body of the company’s management systems and processes, and evaluation of the technical competency of the staff. Staff are witnessed carrying out fire risk assessments, and their reports are reviewed. They continue to be evaluated in this way as part of ongoing monitoring of the company’s standards.
In basic terms, Third-Party Certification is evidence that a service or product adheres to certain standards. An independent expert, the third party, has assessed the service or product and certified that it complies with those standards.
Ultimate responsibility for the adequacy of the fire risk assessment under the RRO rests with the responsible person.
However there has been enforcement action taken against Fire Risk Assessors if the responsible person has been considered to have taken all reasonable steps when appointing an assessor, but the assessor has been proved not to be competent. BAFE SP205 recognises the importance of providing fire risk assessments that comply with an acceptable set of criteria.
How to find a third party certificated organisation.
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