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CERTALARM to start certification process following September general assembly

Published on 30 June 2009

CERTALARM will start the certification process following the September general assembly of the association
CERTALARM will start the certification process following its General Assembly in September
18 September 2009 will be another important milestone in the ongoing development of the pan-European quality mark CERTALARM, with the inaugural General Assembly marking the official start of operations.

CERTALARM is a scheme which offers third party one-stop testing and certification of fire and security products to provide a single quality mark throughout Europe. It was established as a not-for-profit Association (Association International Sans But Lucrative - AISBL) with the express objective of delivering a single voluntary quality mark based on tests by independent third party test laboratories against European standards - the EN54 series for fire products and the EN50131 series for security products.

Derek Harrington is one of five Directors on the Board of CERTALARM which, on 4 June, 2009, created a formal management team from what had previously been a steering group lead structure. Derek is responsible for the marketing of the scheme and comments: "Since establishing the AISBL we have been working hard to spread the CERTALARM message. This has involved attendance at international exhibitions, along with presentations to and ongoing discussions with manufacturers, stakeholders, end users and, importantly, the various test houses and certification bodies operating throughout Europe. This work continues and the General Assembly in Brussels provides an opportunity for stakeholders, partners and users of the scheme to get all the latest information before we commence our first certifications in October 2009."

CERTALARM are assessing the test laboratories and certification bodies who will be contracted to carry out the first product tests through independent auditors to ensure that the testing and certification procedures are not only robust and meet the requirements of the EN54 and EN50131 standards but that they are uniform in their approach. Current partners include the test laboratory and certification bodies ANPI (Belgium), Det Norske Veritas (Norway), Telefication (the Netherlands), the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology DBI (Denmark), and the test laboratory Delta (Denmark).

The European market has been characterised by its significant number of voluntary quality marks applied to fire and security products. These marks tend to be associated with specific European countries and although voluntary, have developed over a number of years to the point where they are accepted as the standards for a given country/countries. This has lead to those companies who wish to sell their products and services into several European countries being faced with the requirement for multiple testing and certification. This is a significant financial drain on the fire and security industries, also hindering the introduction of new products and systems. Ultimately this impacts on the quality of the installed base of fire safety and security alarm systems, stifling innovation and product development. Furthermore, many small and medium sized companies are discouraged from expanding their business into new EU markets simply because of the complexity and cost involved in having products properly certified.

It is against this background that the CERTALARM scheme has been developed, not only to provide a single quality mark that will be recognised throughout Europe for new products but also one which can be adopted by existing products which have already gone through various testing and certification processes. Those manufacturers who have existing products certified by other bodies in Europe will be able to adopt a simple verification process that will allow them to migrate them to the CERTALARM mark. This will enable the rapid introduction of the mark, with the goal of it quickly being adopted and recognised as the mark of quality for fire and security throughout Europe.

The CERTALARM scheme has been accepted by the European cooperation for Accreditation (EA) as a "Sector Scheme" under their rules. CERTALARM now awaits the formalisation of this relationship by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to bring the scheme fully into the umbrella of the EA "Multilateral Agreement," thus making it the EA Sector Scheme for the fire and security industries.

The CE mark was never intended to operate as a quality mark and with no other European certification body or its mark being recognised in a pan-European context, CERTALARM will fulfil this vitally important role. Clear, consistent and meaningful quality marking is central to the future success of products manufactured within Europe for the European market and beyond. American manufacturing marks are currently more widely recognised by customers outside of Europe, a situation which CERTALARM will challenge with a mark that will reinforce the reputation of European manufactured products as being at the forefront of technological development in fire and security. The areas covered by CERTALARM include passive fire protection, fire detection systems, security systems, installers and maintainers, personal competency, construction products, and environmental schemes.

Derek Harrington continues: "A lot of hard work has already gone into setting up CERTALARM. With many of the leading manufacturers of fire and security products very committed to the scheme, it now has a real momentum which has lead us to setting a date for the General Assembly, with the first certification processes to start soon after."

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