BAFE and the FIA announced the acquisition of the FIA AO by BAFE FireQual Ltd. BAFE strongly believe this will be a significant opportunity for the fire industry to develop an exciting range of accredited qualifications to meet the demand for quality assurance of individual skill and expertise required by the industry. This necessity was heightened by the Grenfell tragedy and its subsequent reports outlined by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Competency Steering Group.

Dame Judith Hackitt stated: “The lack of a coherent approach to competence levels and experience required – or professional qualifications where these may be necessary – and how these qualifications and experience should be evidenced so that they are clearly understood by all those operating within the system.” - 5.2 Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report.

Board of Directors

FireQual will operate as a separate wholly-owned subsidiary of BAFE, with its own Board of Directors, and will be led by a newly appointed Qualifications Manager who has a wide experience at a senior level in the qualifications sector. The FireQual Board currently is made up of Chairman Lewis Ramsay - former Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Scottish Fire & Rescue, Pauline Traetto - previous Executive Director of BRE Academy, Douglas Barnett - Chairman of BAFE and Stephen Adams - BAFE Chief Executive.

For full clarity FireQual will only offer exams and qualifications – neither BAFE nor FireQual will be delivering any training. FireQual will be working with licensed training organizations (including the FIA) who will offer the approved syllabuses to their learners. BAFE consider this separation from training and exams/invigilation, as currently operated at BAFE with the BS 5306 fire extinguisher exam, is important to deliver independent quality assurance of this process.

Certification Bodies

Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, commented, “There are natural synergies that will occur along with the BAFE ethos of Third Party Certification for companies delivered through licensed [UKAS Accredited] Certification Bodies. We believe that the introduction of accredited qualifications will only enhance the BAFE company schemes. These are not to be thought of as one or the other however, BAFE will continue to monitor company assurance of specific service competency which holds important value. FireQual will develop qualifications for individual expertise for specific services, whether the candidate works for a BAFE Registered Company or not.”

Following the acquisition, the FIA AO will continue to deliver their exams until FireQual has established the necessary systems and delivery processes. FireQual aim to make this transition as quickly as possible with all the requirements for OFQUAL and the equivalent standards in Scotland and Wales under way.

Fire safety industry qualifications

FireQual will take the opportunity to contact a wide range of organizations that currently deliver training across all aspects of fire safety to consider the application of the new range of qualifications that we will be reviewing.

FireQual welcomes any approaches to consider how this should develop and looks forward to collaborating with the industry to progress the future of individual qualifications for the fire safety industry.

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Building Evacuation: Integration Between Fire Panels and Voice Alarm Allows Faster Response When Every Second Counts
Building Evacuation: Integration Between Fire Panels and Voice Alarm Allows Faster Response When Every Second Counts

Combining fire alarm and voice evacuation on a single, IP-based platform accelerates emergency response and unlocks a wide range of efficiency gains. This evolution continues with a new generation of fire alarm panels. One of the main tasks for every building and safety manager consists of preparing optimally for emergency scenarios. This includes having the right protocols in place for fires to make sure that a building can be evacuated as quickly as possible when every second counts. For an optimal response, operators need as much live situational intelligence as possible; as fast as possible. Critical information includes the exact location of the fire source and current temperature levels in the immediate vicinity. Also an overview of the most critical rooms and floors that need to be prioritized for evacuation. In an ideal world, this information is available in a central location, such as a control room, from which all emergency responses are directed and coordinated. And even more ideally, the building’s fire alarm and voice evacuation systems should not only be connected and integrated – they should also deliver alerts and status reports on the same platform in a coordinated manner.For an optimal response, operators need as much live situational intelligence as possible; as fast as possible In reality, most buildings lack this level of integration and synchronization in their disparate fire alarm and voice evacuation systems. Some buildings run on patchwork solution in which both systems may be controlled in a single location, but entirely without integration whatsoever. This not only creates challenges in terms of installation and maintenance of these systems. In the worst case, the lack of integration can cost valuable seconds in response time. But system integration between fire and voice alarm solutions has not only come a long way in recent years. As the latest evolution, a new generation of fire panels helps to connect and control both systems on a single interface, thereby opening the door to immediate efficiency improvements and future innovations. Connecting IP-Based Fire Alarm and Voice Evacuation Systems For the past few years, Bosch has been offering connections between IP-based fire alarm and voice evacuation systems as a standard, out-of-the-box feature. The “Smart Safety Link” is an interface that creates a connection between fire and voice alarm systems. As a direct, plug-and-play connection, it replaces workaround solutions or relay-based connections limited to single evacuation zones in the building. As the direct takeaways from a systems architecture perspective, the Smart Safety Link requires far less cables and significantly reduces installation costs and timelines. Bosch has been offering connections between IP-based fire alarm and voice evacuation systems as a standard, out-of-the-box featureAnd by creating the connection on an IP-based architecture, the system constantly monitors the health and status of all connected devices. For operators, this significantly increases the system’s overall reliability while lowering the risk for false alarms. It also allows for replacing or repairing components as needed, right when failures happen or become imminent. The resulting systems architecture is not only more stable and reliable, but also far less complex in terms of set-up. Depending on the size of the building, one or more voice alarm systems can also be connected to the fire alarm control panels. The direct connection via Smart Safety Link eliminates the need for including additional interface modules to accommodate a voice evacuation connection, thereby keeping investment costs low. Targeted Evacuation by Building Zones Beyond the ease and efficiency of setting up a building’s alarm systems, the connection between fire alarm and voice evacuation on a single platform significantly improves emergency responses: Firstly, in case of a fire alarm the Smart Safety Link allows for voice-guided evacuation of a building by separate zones. This allows for addressing rooms and building floors closest to the fire source first, starting with the evacuation of the most endangered building occupants. This not only supports an orderly evacuation response but also helps to avoid panic and additional complications.Studies state that using voice evacuation with clear instructions creates significant time gains Secondly, the integration makes evacuations much faster overall in situations when time is of the essence. 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RMRS Researchers Enhance Firefighter Safety Through Science
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Public and firefighter safety is the number one priority at the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) in Missoula, Mont. The Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program there seeks to develop tools and technology that can help protect people and communities before, during, and after wildfires. RMRS develops and delivers innovative science and technology to improve the health and use of the nation’s forests and grasslands. Their scientists put tools and knowledge into the hands of managers who can apply them to shared stewardship projects designed to reduce fuels and improve habitat and forest health. enhanced firefighter safety The fire research program has enhanced firefighter safety by improving metrics for determining firefighter safety zones and escape routes, improving and modernizing determination of fire danger, and developing systems and applications such as the Wildfire Safety Evaluator (WiSE) and WildfireSAFE to facilitate use of these metrics by wildland firefighters. The program has also pioneered the development of metrics for scenario planning and assessing wildfire risk to communities. RMRS scientists are leaders in the science of risk management, fire behavior, fire suppression and management, and treating fuels to mitigate risks, as well as post-fire impacts to watersheds and methods to help protect people and communities before, during, and after wildfires. proactive fire management USDA Forest Service is a science-based organization, and research has been part of its mission since its inception “We need to work with our interagency firefighters and industry partners to move us to a more proactive fire management posture,” says Thomas C. Dzomba, Deputy Program Manager and Director of the Fire Modeling Institute at the Rocky Mountain Research Station's Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program. “We are all in this together.” USDA Forest Service is a science-based organization, and research has been part of its mission since its inception in 1905. In 1908, forester Raphael Zon, declared “Here we will plant the first tree of research,” near Flagstaff, Ariz., at the Fort Valley Experiment Station. It later became the Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, and eventually combined in 1953 with the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. providing economic opportunities The combination created the modern footprint of the Rocky Mountain Research Station, which covers 12 states in the intermountain west and includes 14 experimental forests and 14 labs, including the fire sciences lab in Missoula, Mont. The team in Missoula collaborates with researchers globally to advance forest inventory and analysis techniques, to promote science that enhances the wildland fire system, and to provide economic opportunities by improving utilization of wood products. RMRS also conducts extensive research on watersheds, wildlife and fish, rangeland and forest health, insects and diseases, wilderness, human interactions with natural resources, and much more. The Human Performance and Innovation and Organizational Learning (HP&IOL) team is a part of RMRS and serves the entire agency in order to promote a culture of learning and foster a resilient workforce and advance innovations. fire management efforts There are many examples of how fire research can help in adapting to fire on the landscapes that evolved with it HP&IOL seeks input from employees through verbal and written interviews, focus groups, and other means. Additionally, many of the research staff work directly in support of fire management efforts, enabling them to quickly see what could make fire management or prescribed fire more efficient or safer. To promote better understanding of the importance of fire research, the fire industry should talk to partners, community leaders, and the public and show them how science helped improve decision-making before and during fire suppression efforts. There are many examples of how fire research can help in adapting to fire on the landscapes that evolved with it. For example, where have fuel treatments helped buffer communities or important resources? helping protect communities “We should tell our success stories,” says Dzomba. “Ultimately the best safety measure is to not have to fight the fire, because we’ve learned to adapt, developed mitigations and treated fuels before fire occurs to help protect communities and create more resilient landscapes.”

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