BAFE supports CFOA UK Business Safety Week
A fire in our premises is one of the incidents that every business owner dreads. Some research indicates that 80% of businesses that suffer from a major disaster such as a fire will fail within 18 months. There is fire safety legislation across the UK and the good news is that the number of fires is reducing, but every one is a tragedy.
The Chief Fire Officers Association represents all of the local fire and rescue services in the UK and they want to highlight the serious nature of fire to the business community and also the cost of false alarms. A recent study in Scotland indicates that competence in the design, installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems is vitally important and that they are kept up to date.
Today is the start of CFOA’s UK Business Safety Week 2015. At BAFE we understand one of the major difficulties for businesses is keeping up to date and then dealing with the many rules and regulations that are imposed on the owner (Responsible Person/Duty Holder). However, one area that should not be ‘put to the bottom of the pile’ is fire safety. Your staff, customers, stock and premises can be put at risk in an instant if proper fire precautions have not been assessed, actioned and maintained. Fire protection is different to other services. They are not switched on and off every day like security detection, but you have to be confident it will work at any time, immediately and that it meets the needs of your premises.
Current fire protection legislation across the UK requires property managers of all non-residential premises to have adequate fire protection. It is their responsibility to ensure that there is a sufficient, updated fire risk assessment and that all aspects of the requirements are carried out competently. This is not only to ensure that customers, staff and premises are protected, but also to minimise the risk of costly unwanted false alarms.
How does the business owner know if their provider of the fire risk assessment, their fire alarms and extinguishers are competent? The most recent CFOA (Chief Fire Officers Association) guidance for the Reduction of False Alarms and Unwanted Fire Signals highlights some of the solutions to this problem, amongst which is the use of third party certificated providers of fire protection services. This document can be found here.
So, what does third party certification mean and why is it the best way to ensure competence? It means that a provider of the service has trained operatives, has good quality management systems and has had their business assessed by a third party, accredited body to ensure that they meet all of the relevant standards – and that they are checked out again every year. So no ‘word of mouth’ or ‘mates’ advice on who does this vital work – just competent and regularly assessed providers, large and small across the UK.
It is mandatory to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ Fire Risk Assessment for commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises. While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person or Duty Holder can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.
Recently there has been a number of prosecutions relating to fire safety failures and small businesses. This includes a curry house owner being jailed for three months and ordered to pay £17,572 in costs due to his failure to act on issues highlighted by the Fire and Rescue Services.
To demonstrate that the Responsible Person (Duty Holder in Scotland) has met their obligations, many public authorities and commercial organisations now insist that their fire protection services are carried out by a company that has been Third Party Certified. Many now specify that providers are BAFE registered.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety)Order 2005 and the equivalent legislationin Scotland and Northern Ireland,places specific duties on the ResponsiblePerson or Duty Holder and DCLGstates in its guidance documents (section 8):
“Third-party certification schemes for fire protection products and related services are an effective means of providing the fullest possible assurances, offering a level of quality, reliability and safety that non-certificated products may lack.”
BAFE is the independent third party certification, registration body for the fire protection industry. We develop schemes for UKAS accredited Certification Bodies to assess and approve companies to these recognised standards. There are now more than 1000 companies registered to over 1200 BAFE schemes across the UK. Our aim is to support property managers to ensure that they get quality fire protection for their premises, staff and service users.
In 2012 BAFE launched the first UKAS accredited scheme for companies who carry out Fire Risk Assessments (BAFE Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment SP205) which is a vital part of meeting obligations under fire legislation. The scheme considers the competence of the individual assessors as well as the quality requirements for the organisation. There are a growing number of companies registering to the scheme, throughout the UK.
If you are looking for the supply and maintenance of portable extinguishers, look for one of the 360 companies registered to BAFE Contract Maintenance of Portable Fire Extinguishers incorporating Registered Fire Extinguisher Service Technicians’ SP101/ST104 scheme. Companies are certificated to ISO9001 and all of their technicians are assessed by BAFE for initial and ongoing competence. There are currently more than 1280 BAFE registered technicians, working for our registered companies.
For installing or maintaining fire alarm systems Companies should hold BAFE Fire Detection and Alarm Systems SP203-1 scheme approval. This scheme includes the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection systems and also requires that all equipment used is third party certificated. The SP203 scheme now has over 800 registered companies. Registration to this BAFE scheme is often a key requirement criteria in tenders for the provision of fire alarms.
Our Emergency Lighting scheme (Emergency Lighting SP203-4) sets out the standards and staff competence criteria to be met. It is modular as with the fire alarm scheme and is achieving growing recognition from end users.
There are a range of other BAFE schemes covering particular sectors of the fire protection industry and details can be found on the BAFE website, along with a complete search facility to find registered companies in your area.
If you want to be sure you are getting your fire protection from companies who are properly and regularly assessed you can search for registered companies in your area or look for more information about BAFE here.
- This information was originally featured in First Voice Magazine's Fire Safety Supplement (Federation of Small Businesses)