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How to ensure competence

Friday 24th February 2017

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) COO Niall Rowan webinar discussing competency in fire safety

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) COO Niall Rowan earlier today discussed competency in fire safety. During the ASFP webinar, ‘Passive Fire Protection – Getting it right’, Mr Rowan reviewed ‘the installation issue’ with examples of passive fire protection done incorrectly that would not have any fire resisting properties.

This included a case study discussed of the building of ‘luxury apartments’ that had multiple passive fire protection failings, resulting in retrospective work to be undertaken. The frustrating thing behind this is that it will cost ten times more than doing this right in the first place.

Why do people continue to use untrained, non-Third Party Certified providers?

Mr Rowan detailed that currently, there is no bar to entry for Passive Fire Protection installers, no requirement for training, qualifications or competence. There is not enough inspection, enforcement or Third Party Certification for products that are invisible when installed.

Another major issue is around the fixation on price and not value which can result in multiple sub-contracting occurring and poorly designed and planned work.

There are also problems that occur as a result of the appointed ‘Responsible Person’ for fire safety (or equivalent roles in Scotland and Northern Ireland). Maintenance of products needs to be upheld where necessary and they also need to be involved in changes to the building. An example of this is when a good fire protection installation is completed and then follow on trades change this, eradicating the quality fire protection in place.

Third Party Certification is important over all areas of fire protection.

Third Party Competency schemes provide an independent guarantee of the quality of the product or service provided. This is encouraged by authorities such as DCLG and UK Government and ensures:

  • Staff that have been evaluated are used
  • Only use Third Party Certified (TPC) products
  • Job certificates must prove right products are used
  • Service provider will issue a certificate of completion
  • Random site inspection of work to ensure correct procedures are put into practice

What is the result of Third Party Service Certification? Well without competent installation then products (TPC or not) are rendered potentially useless. Poor installations will result in a potentially controllable fire spreading a lot faster and placing more people at unnecessary risk.

Mr Rowan used the analogy that you wouldn’t ask anyone to pull your tooth out, you would approach someone who has been medically trained to do so. This applies to all fire protection, passive or active.

BAFE continues to promote quality in fire protection, working predominantly in active fire protection services such as fire extinguisher maintenance and the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems for fire detection/alarms and emergency lightning – all things you need in place, working correctly in the background for that possible time you will need it the most.

For more information on Passive Fire Protection please visit the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) website http://asfp.org.uk 

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