The Grenfell Inquiry in late March discussed the status of regulation within the professional fire risk assessment service market. This adds to the larger issue of the current landscape of fire safety and the ability of organisations to fulfil specific tasks to a competent standard. In the Module 3 Opening Statements (29/03/2021) James Maxwell-Scott QC for RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea) highlighted that:
“Industry practice is likely also to be relevant to your consideration of the fire risk assessments carried out on Grenfell Tower. In an ideal world, fire risk assessments would always be carried out by someone of the calibre of Mr Todd or Dr Lane. But this is not an ideal world, and it was never intended that the task of carrying out fire risk assessments be reserved to qualified fire safety engineers. For it to have been, the Government would have needed to pass legislation regulating the sector. In fact, the sector was and remains completely unregulated. No qualifications are required by law. No training is required by law. There was and is no bar whatsoever to anyone seeking to go into business as a fire risk assessor.” – Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Day 114, March 29 2021 (Opus 2 - Official Court Reporters Transcript)
BAFE have been involved in the activity of the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council/Fire Sector Federation and their “Guide to choosing a competent fire risk assessor” which cites BAFE SP205 as a quality option of providing evidence of competency for organisations delivering Fire Risk Assessment services. What is needed however is stronger regulation and evidence should be required to deliver such an important life safety service. The Hackitt Working group WG4 is also considering detailed competence requirements for Fire Risk Assessors to be part of a qualifications process. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification has been called for to be mandatory for fire protection services for some time, notably from Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association – and BAFE fully support this.
Lewis Ramsay, Interim Chief Executive – BAFE, commented “BAFE and the UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification market are prepared and ready for mandatory evidence of competency measures to be introduced. We strongly believe that Third Party Certification of Fire Risk Assessment organisations is of vital importance and should be required by law. The BAFE SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Scheme importantly outlines understanding the limitations of an organisations abilities to provide fire risk assessments for buildings of particular scopes. This would mean that assessors being used under these stringent requirements should be appropriate if this became a compulsory requirement, as competent providers must refuse work they are not capable of undertaking.”
Further information on Fire Risk Assessment/BAFE SP205 Scheme:
Source: Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Day 114, March 29 2021 (Opus 2 - Official Court Reporters Transcript)
Source: Module 3 Opening Statements - Monday 29th March 2021 (2/2)