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It’s time for third-party certification within the UK fire safety sector

FirefightersImprove safety and recognise reputable fire systems support businesses

Pressure is building towards a change in the UK fire systems market whereby, as with security systems, compulsory third-party certification of fire systems support businesses is being called for. In the light of Grenfell Tower and other tragedies, in July 2020 the government launched an open consultation into the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and published a new Draft Building Safety Bill (as reported by Ifsecglobal). At the same time The National Security Inspectorate has recently argued the case for fire certification in The Parliamentary Review 2020.

The UK security industry model means police response to an alarm is only authorised if the security system involved is overseen by an (annually) third-party certified support business, such as Choice. This model has seen a driving down of false alarms (and thus wastage of police resources) and insurance premiums, along with continual improvement in the quality of security systems design, maintenance and products used, for more than 25 years now. This model recognises the experience, expertise and investment that credible businesses make in gaining and maintaining their accreditation. It also represents a significant barrier to entry to ‘cowboy’ businesses.

BAFE logoThis is not the case in the UK fire safety sector. Though there are third-party approval schemes – and Choice is appropriately accredited (via NSI/BAFE) – there is currently no regulatory compulsion for building owners/operators to use certified fire system businesses (approved to standards acceptable to fire rescue authorities) to design, install and maintain their fire systems.

A web search for news of prosecutions for breaches of fire safety can reveal just how poorly the overall market is served. And the obvious requirement for life concerns at hospitals, care homes etc, means commercial premises often have lower priority in the eyes of fire and rescue services.

Choice wholly endorses a move to third-party certification for the UK fire safety sector.

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