UL discusses the importance of Third Party Certification

Friday 25th September 2020
Third Party Certification “is a useful differentiator for those who purchase and then depend on products and services to be fit for purpose.”

On IFSEC Global, Simon Ince (Project Engineer - UL) has been discussing Third Party Certification. Whilst the article focusses on firestopping, his comments apply to all areas of fire safety provision.

Simon opens with the fact that “there isn’t a single solution or a magic wand that can be waved to improve the delivery of fire safety in the construction process. However, one area that has international recognition for helping improve quality and compliance is that of independent Third Party Certification (TPC) of products, services and management systems.”

With a lack of regulations in place for fire safety services to be performed, Simon adds that Third Party Certification “on a voluntary basis is a useful differentiator for those who purchase and then depend on products or services to be fit for purpose.” In addition to this, the benefit of specifying a Third Party Certificated provider “offers strong support to the due diligence process.”

Simon states “TPC isn’t a guarantee, but rather a very good assurance of compliance or quality.” This echoes BAFE’s ongoing message that Third Party Certification offers strong evidence of competency for specific fire safety services, which is re-assessed regularly (usually on an annual basis).

Simon continues by noting the “value isn’t just for the manufacturer or service provider; the added value TPC offers is also for those purchasing from an often confusing marketplace.”

In March this year, BAFE launched their Don’t Just Specify, Verify! campaign to continue their promotion of UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification. It pointed out the important second, and sometimes overlooked, verification stage when specifying and sourcing a competent Third Party Certificated provider to help comply with fire safety legislation.

Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, at the time of launching the campaign stated: “As noted in Government guidance, specifying Third Party Certification is a robust method of sourcing a competent provider to help you fulfil your fire safety obligations. However, there is still an onus on the premises management [Responsible Person/Duty Holder] to check that their chosen providers are appropriately Third Party Certificated and competent for the work required. If you specify a Third Party Certificated provider, but don’t verify this before awarding a contract, this could result in insufficient fire safety in your building and makes you accountable under current legislation. It is easy and quick to check, which helps towards a safer building and, in the event of a fire, stronger defence having acted with due diligence.”

This campaign however is to enhance the visibility and prominence of UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification in general, not just BAFE and its Registered Companies. We stress in our reasons to use a BAFE Registered Company that in the instance that you require specific services that the BAFE Schemes do not cover, it is still strongly advised to check if your chosen provider is Third Party Certificated for these via another organisation.

Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, competency has been a core focus of everyone’s attention. Simon rhetorically asks “where can third party certification help with the implementation of some of the many new recommendations? The concise answer is, everywhere it is already helping, and more if needed and asked of.” Moving forward, he says that “the ‘golden thread of information’ has been a phrase well used since the Hackitt Report. Having accurate and evidenced information about the fire protection measures in a building is something that is essential. It confirms the suitability of the product and how that product matches the original design intent.” He stresses “the product is only as good as the installation of the product or system. Certification of installers of fire protection has been around for years, and again just like product certification, TPC is also being set more frequently as a requirement on tender documents.”

Simon concludes by saying Third Party Certification is “a tool to be used”. He summarises that “Third Party Certification is an internationally recognised system that can help change the fire safety sector. Dame Judith Hackitt identified the construction process as “being broken”. TPC could help prevent similar breaks in the future and as part of a complete overhaul of fire safety, it could provide some/many of the much needed quality assurance and conformity assessment indicators required.”

Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, comments “it is great to see Simon and UL discussing this important subject. Our Don’t Just Specify, Verify! campaign is in the interest of all UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification and the incredible value it holds in regard to all fire safety services where it is available. The industry will only raise its profile through concerted effort and requires all parties, from UKAS, Certification Bodies and BAFE to Third Party Certificated fire safety service providers themselves, to promote the value it offers - not just for themselves, but for the end users and their own due diligence procedures.

Source: Firestopping and third party certification by Simon Ince, Project Engineer - UL, (published by IFSEC Global) can be found here: