An update from Director of Schemes, Chris Auger, outlining issues raised by the new lockdown measures to be introduced tomorrow (05/11/2020).
Due to the recent second wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday (31/10/2020), BAFE have had to review the situation regarding refresher certificates and technician assessments. Although the announcement only applied to England, there are also different levels of restriction in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and therefore BAFE guidance will apply to the whole of the UK. Restrictions in England will be in place until 02/12/2020 where the local and regional tiered system is currently planned to be reinstated. BAFE will be publish more information and guidance when appropriate.
Certification Bodies will still be required to assess competence and BAFE Registered Companies are strongly advised to contact their Certification Body for their current policy. Further evidence of competency records and procedures may be requested, and assurances that the on-site/witness audit can be completed at the earliest opportunity once restrictions have been lifted (subject to local/regional restrictions). Companies applying for assessment, or currently in the process of being assessed, should also contact the Certification Body for their policies.
BAFE will endeavour to be flexible and reasonable about their respective Schemes’ requirements for continuity of Third Party Certification/BAFE Registration, where companies can demonstrate that they have taken all steps possible to comply with their Certification Bodies advice and procedures.
If scheme requirements cannot be fully met due to the current lockdown issues relating to access to customer sites, BAFE will grant a concession until 31 December 2020. This will apply to both initial certification audit and surveillance audits. Where a certification audit has taken place and the applicant company has been successful, BAFE may issue a temporary registration certificate.
Where fire extinguisher technician assessments are currently booked these can still take place subject to the assessment being conducted outside and where suitable safety measures are in place to protect both the technician and the BAFE assessor.
Where assessments must be cancelled, a revised assessment date must be agreed between the technician/registered company and the BAFE assessor before the end of the current lockdown period (02/12/2020). For clarity, the assessment itself does not have to take place during this period but arrangements must be made for the assessment to take place (preferably before the end of 2020). Where assessments have not yet been booked technicians should continue to liaise with their BAFE assessor to arrange a suitable time for the assessment to take place after the current lockdown conditions have eased (subject to local or regional restrictions).
BAFE have considered the practicalities of requesting and insisting on receiving asbestos awareness and health and safety training during this time and have agreed that if online training cannot be accessed then a concession will be granted to the end of December 2020 (31/12/2020) when BAFE will review the situation at that time.
Exam refreshers should be maintained wherever possible. BAFE have written to the Chair of FSH/02 to request an amendment but any change could take up to 18 months to implement. Therefore, BAFE will accept verifiable online refresher subject to details of course content and pass criteria (minimum 75%), and each candidate must receive a certificate showing they have passed. Online refresher certificates will be accepted initially up to the end of January 2021 (31/01/2021), subject to UK Government lockdown restrictions.
Refreshers that were due on or before the commencement of the original official lockdown (16/03/2020) will be expected to have a current certificate. For those fire extinguisher technicians that were due to expire on or before 05/05/2020 (six months prior to current lockdown restrictions being implemented) and have not booked a refresher will be expected to sit the full exam. Technicians who had their refresher exam booked between 05/11/2020 and 02/12/2020 will be given until the 31/12/2020 to book another course/exam but this must take place before end of January (31/01/2021).
Fire Extinguisher Technicians whose exam or refresher is due in November 2020 will be expected to book their course in the normal way (subject to any further restrictions).
All exams and refreshers will be expected to be current on 01/01/2021.
In this latest coronavirus situation BAFE will continue to monitor the situation with trainers and Certification Bodies.
Please contact the BAFE Office via firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further clarification of any information outlined in this update.
Thank you for your ongoing cooperation in providing quality in fire safety.
- Chris Auger, Director of Schemes - BAFE