BAFE, the British Approvals for Fire Equipment has stated that professional competence recommendations set out in Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘Building a Safer Future’ report is set to be fulfilled by BSI with a new standards program.
National Standards program
“BAFE is actively working on a number of Working Groups (WGs), including the Built Environment Competence Standards (BECS) Strategy Group and the Competence Steering Group (CSG) to help raise and set the bar of fire safety in the built environment,” stated Chris Auger, Head of Schemes, BAFE.
Chris adds, “It is vital that there is both a top down and bottom up approach to competence in order to have competent individuals working on and understanding fire safety in construction and, effective and competent management of life and fire safety which will have a ‘trickle down’ effect leading to the much needed culture change that Dame Judith Hackitt has described.”
Tackling fire safety competence challenges
BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has announced a new National Standards program
British Standards Institution (BSI), in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has announced a new National Standards program to raise professional competence in the built environment sector. The standards aim to tackle the competence challenges identified in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, ‘Building a Safer Future’, conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt.
They are a part of the package of measures recommended by the Steering Group on Competence for Building a Safer Future (CSG), which was set out in raising the bar.
Building Safety Bill compliance
The government-funded program is designed to support the delivery of regulatory policy and the new regulated roles responsible for building safety, set out in the forthcoming Building Safety Bill, while also enabling the large-scale industry-led program to raise competency across the sector.
It includes an overarching competence framework standard for everyone working on a building. This is intended to be used by key professions and trades including designers, contractors, fire safety risk assessors, building managers and others in specialist technical or corporate roles.
Managing fire safety and building systems
The framework will provide a set of core principles of competence, including leading and managing safety, communicating safety, delivering safety, risk management, regulations and processes, building systems, ethics, and fire/life safety.
The framework will be developed and made available for use from the Autumn season onwards. After three periods of public consultation and refinement, it will then be published as a British Standard. It will also include a set of competence requirements for the three newly-regulated roles of Principal Designer, Principal Contractor and Building Safety Manager.
Fast track PAS standards
A set of fast track PAS standards will be produced to meet the urgent need for competent individuals
A set of fast track PAS standards will be produced to meet the urgent need for competent individuals, to fulfill these roles set out in the government’s new Bill, to ensure the safety of residents.
These key roles have overarching responsibility for the main activities affecting building and life safety at each stage of a building’s life-cycle, including design, construction and operation. They require enhanced competences in addition to any discipline-related competences, relating to their overarching role to ensure that the design intent of the building is maintained and that workers employed and used in design, construction, refurbishment, maintenance and operation are suitably competent.
Professional Competence standards program
Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at The British Standards Institution (BSI), stated “Dame Judith Hackitt’s report asked the Built Environment industry to change its culture to safeguard people and their properties. In response to the call to put clear responsibility at the heart of the system, BSI as the UK’s National Standards Body, has launched the Professional Competence standards program. The new industry-led standards will support the Building Safety Bill by ‘raising the bar’ across workforce competence.”
Dame Judith Hackitt, Author of ‘Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety’, stated “The work of the Competence Steering Group has been a 'tour de force' and all of those who have been involved thus far are to be congratulated. As the baton is handed over to BSI to lead us through the standards development process, the whole industry needs to keep up the pace – not just to agree on the new standards, but to make them a reality in practice."
She adds, “That will require collaboration and cooperation, and demolition of silos – part of the culture change that is so urgently needed.”
Enhancing building fire safety standard
The new national standards program is a vital next step in raising the bar for enhanced competence standards"
Graham Watts OBE, Chair of Competence Steering Group and CEO of Construction Industry Council (CIC), said “This new stakeholder-led national standards program, under the guidance of BSI, is the welcome and vital next step in raising and setting the bar for enhanced competence standards for all those engaged in ensuring that buildings are safe for their residents and occupants, through the design and construction or refurbishment phases and into the management of buildings in use.”
Graham adds, “It builds upon the framework of occupational competences across all sectors that the Competence Steering Group has developed over the past two years.”
Compliance with building safety regulations
Building Safety Minister, Lord Greenhalgh, said “This government is determined to put residents’ safety first by bringing about the biggest improvements in building safety regulations in 40 years. Regulatory reforms alone won’t achieve this, we need to raise skills across the industry, backed by a strong national competence framework, and we are working together with the BSI and industry to make this happen.”
He adds, “We welcome the expertise they bring to the vital work of raising standards of competence to make sure all residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.”
Since the standardization program began in April 2020, it has been overseen by a newly established BSI Built Environment Competence Standards (BECS) Strategy Group. The group consists of strategic, senior-level technical and policy experts from a broad range of organizations involved in the design, construction and management of higher risk buildings. The program will run until 2022.