At the start of April this year, BAFE published information for SP101 Registered Companies regarding coronavirus and the multiple factors related to fire extinguisher technician requirements. BAFE earlier this month resumed technician assessments and BS 5306 Exam invigilation (where safe to do so). Now that COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to ease, BAFE would like to now announce that refresher, asbestos awareness and health and safety training will now resume under normal conditions as required under the SP101 Scheme. BAFE however continue to monitor the situation and is prepared to review any mitigating factors why these requirements are unable to be met at this time. Fire extinguisher technicians Chris Auger, Head of Schemes, commented: “All Certification Bodies continue to perform BAFE Scheme assessments and this month BAFE has also resumed their normal fire extinguisher technician assessment procedures. BAFE must maintain SP101 requirements return to normal conditions to ensure knowledgeable fire extinguisher technicians continue to work in this field.” “We understand there may still be extenuating circumstances with some of our SP101 Registered Companies and I will be prepared to review these on a case-by-case basis. We do not wish to make circumstances difficult for anybody at this time, but quality in fire safety must continue.”
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.
In the BSI hosted webinar, recent Schemes launched by BAFE will be discussed, being BAFE SP206 (covering the Design, Installation, Commissioning, Recharge and Maintenance of kitchen fire protection/suppression systems) and BAFE’s latest Scheme made available, BAFE SP105 (covering the Service and Maintenance of Dry and Wet Riser/Falling Installations). Chris Auger, Head of Schemes of BAFE, will also provide an update on work continuing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and provide an explanation of scheme development. The BSI hosted webinar will also be joined by Richard Gurney, Certification Group Manager - BSI, who will provide useful insight on the route to achieving Third Party Certification and BAFE Registration. Topics that will be covered: BAFE Update on assessments/work continuing in light of the current situation Why schemes for specific services are being developed Key elements assessed under both schemes and why it is important for the industry Route to third party certification and registering with BAFE The benefit to the user’s business of Kitemark certification including market access
There is a bombardment of information coming out regarding the coronavirus pandemic and the changes to the ‘new normal’ all are becoming accustomed to. BAFE has been keeping abreast of this information and hopes one finds news provided on the BAFE website useful. With coronavirus lockdown measures in place slowly beginning to ease BAFE strongly advises that fire safety measures are not overlooked or deferred further. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, has been discussing this within the industry using multiple outputs such as the FSM Podcast (episode 3) and the Fire Safety Event Online (15/05/2020). During the event online, Mr. Adams clearly stated the fact that fire safety legislation has not changed to accommodate the coronavirus pandemic, it is still very much being enforced in the interest of life safety. Planned maintenance can begin Housing minister says planned maintenance and void work should resume in letter to social housing tenants Inside Housing recently reported that “Housing minister says planned maintenance and void work should resume in letter to social housing tenants” (19/05/2020). The article discussed the current status of gas safety checks, writing “the government reiterated its view that landlords should ‘make every effort’ to abide by statutory obligations and conduct annual gas safety inspections.” BAFE must stress fire safety obligations should also continue to be followed with as much significance, performed as safely as possible. Fire does not discriminate, and as BAFE has discussed many times before, fire systems and provisions are often taken for granted and their maintenance can be overlooked, especially if those responsible for fire safety have not been working in the building or are on furlough. Unlike security systems, which one deactivates and activate on a regular basis, fire systems are always set to active ready to react in the event of fire. Regular scheduled maintenance This means one may not pick up on faults early that could jeopardize the effectiveness of the system and the safety of one’s occupants. Therefore, regular scheduled maintenance performed by competent providers is crucial (and noted as best practice in the appropriate standards). Following this, with documented evidence, will demonstrate due diligence. All fire safety systems and provisions should continue to be well maintained ready for when people begin to reoccupy buildings. This is prevalent with the current situation, as measures implemented to deal with COVID-19 may instigate an obligation to update one’s fire risk assessment (and to action any issues highlighted) to comply with legislation. Competent fire safety expected We are fully aware that the fire safety industry is somewhat invisible to the greater public" Stephen Adams comments, “We are fully aware that the fire safety industry is somewhat invisible to the greater public, and just expect their premises managers to be ‘doing the right thing’, even throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Competent fire safety is simply expected, and it comes down to the industry to contact their clients to educate them of the facts. Legislation is still in place; standards continue to recommend scheduled maintenance and Third Party Certificated providers can competently assist them in the interest of keeping people safe from fire.” Fire safety obligations Previous guidance issued (17/03/2020) by Chris Auger, Head of Schemes – BAFE, specified: “If a client is not permitting access on-site due to coronavirus precautions, please make sure you explain that this is their decision to not allow you to complete this work. It is the role of the premises management (i.e. Responsible Person/Duty Holder) to ensure they fulfil their fire safety obligations. Advise them of any risk and if they still do not grant you access on-site, document this communication. This will provide evidence you have acted responsibly with your clients. If you are allowed access on-site, please stay safe and follow appropriate coronavirus guidance to ensure you are not unnecessarily increasing risk to anyone in the premises or yourselves.” BAFE continues to encourage this action, stressing contact with clients is important at present. As all begin to adapt to new ways of working and ongoing developments regarding the pandemic please continue to uphold best practice in the fire safety industry, whilst being understanding of client’s decisions at present.