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.
BAFE is delighted to announce that Lewis Ramsay QFSM has joined the BAFE Board of Directors. Lewis Ramsay is a former Assistant Chief Fire Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service specializing in both Response and Resilience and extensive work in Prevention and Protection. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, commented: “The BAFE Board brings together a very wide range of experience of the fire protection industry and related skills. Lewis’s experience and knowledge will be incredibly important and will help in our efforts to develop BAFE both nationally with the Fire & Rescue Services but also with a focus on Scotland. Scottish Government and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have always been quick to react to fire safety requirements to keep the public and working environment safe.” fire protection Industry Lewis Ramsay noted in a response to the Board and Council “I am delighted to have been appointed to the Board and will work hard to support BAFE during my tenure.” I consider BAFE to have a critical role in the development of competence and quality standards" Also, at the BAFE AGM 2020 (online), Douglas Barnett was also unanimously voted to continue as Chairman for the next two years. Douglas is Director, Mid‑Market and Customer Risk Management for AXA Insurance. The BAFE Board, Council and team welcome this decision especially at this time of great challenges for the fire protection industry. competence and quality standards Douglas responded: “It is a great honor to receive such strong support from the BAFE Board and Council. I consider BAFE to have a critical role in the development of competence and quality standards in the fire protection industry in the post-Grenfell era. I am delighted that Lewis Ramsay has joined the Board bringing a wide range of skills and experience to support us. I look forward to working with the team over the next two years.” BAFE are extremely grateful for the Board and Council’s contribution in developing and promoting quality in fire safety and for the support of our Certification Bodies, Trade Associations and most especially the commitment of our Registered Companies.
The Government consultation Fire safety: risk prioritisation in existing buildings, closes in mid February 2020. In January Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, encouraged everyone to review the document provided on the MHCLG website and to respond accordingly. The call for evidence noted it was ‘in line with the Secretary of State’s commitment to conducting a full-scale technical review of the Fire Safety guidance to the Building Regulations (Approved Document B) and to provide advice to building owners and residents.’ Changing the fire safety requirements BAFE’s response agreed that a ‘case by case risk-based approach should be taken for existing buildings’ and noted multiple factors (aside from height) that should be considered when classifying building risk. These included: Fire Risk/Fire Protection – What is identified in the Fire Risk Assessment and what is the current level of fire protection? Occupancy – Are there vulnerable residents in the building that would be at higher risk in the outbreak of fire? Construction methods/materials and current means of escape – Could these measures be improved in the interest of life (and building) safety? Change of building use - Has the fire risk assessment been reviewed/updated and has this changed the fire safety requirements needed? Ongoing maintenance and risk assessment The second example was the fact that the greatest number of fires occur in domestic premises BAFE believe that height is only partially significant when classifying building risk and noted two clear examples to illustrate this. The first being the Rosepark Care Home fire, that in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents, was not a tall multi-storey building. January 2020 marked the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and Douglas Barnett, Chairman – BAFE, recently questioned at the FPA Seminar if lessons had been learned from this event. The second example was the fact that the greatest number of fires occur in domestic premises. Height should be one of the factors considered from the inception of the building design to the ongoing maintenance and risk assessment of any building, but categorically not the key factor to classify building risk. Fire safety related services The consultation asked to specify the ‘areas of research on the prioritisation of risks in buildings’ that should be considered. Without hesitation BAFE noted materials. This is an obvious answer following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and the evidence that the materials used aided the fire to spread at such an alarming rate. Greater emphasis on regulating quality of any provider of fire safety related services Coinciding with this is competence, BAFE strongly believe in quality evidence of competency (such as UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification). Greater emphasis on regulating quality of any provider of fire safety related services working in a building is paramount to improving fire safety in existing buildings. In the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report, Dame Judith Hackitt discussed the ‘golden thread’ of responsibility. More competent industry Stronger regulation (i.e. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification) of fire safety service providers can aid in establishing a far more competent industry and a safer built environment. The consultation asked to ‘provide innovative ideas’ of approaching the assessment of risk in existing buildings. Although Third Party Certification of fire risk assessors has been established for a while now, it is still seen as a pioneering model to assess their ability to fulfil this task and needs further discussion in Government. This comes back to Hackitt’s aforementioned ‘golden thread’ of responsibility and accountability. Current legislation and the enforcers of this (currently Fire and Rescue Service) need to emphasise the importance of competency when completing a fire risk assessment and what clearly defines this competency.
The Government consultation ‘Fire safety: risk prioritization in existing buildings’, closed recently. In January Stephen Adams, Chief Executive, BAFE, encouraged everyone to review the document provided on the MHCLG website and to respond accordingly. The call for evidence noted it was “in line with the Secretary of State’s commitment to conducting a full-scale technical review of the Fire Safety guidance to the Building Regulations (Approved Document B) and to provide advice to building owners and residents.” risk-based approach BAFE’s response agreed that a “case by case risk-based approach should be taken for existing buildings” and noted multiple factors (aside from height) that should be considered when classifying building risk. These included: Fire Risk/Fire Protection – What is identified in the Fire Risk Assessment and what is the current level of fire protection? Occupancy – Are there vulnerable residents in the building that would be at higher risk in the outbreak of fire? Construction methods/materials and current means of escape – Could these measures be improved in the interest of life (and building) safety? Change of building use – Has the fire risk assessment been reviewed/updated and has this changed the fire safety requirements needed? ongoing maintenance and risk assessment The consultation asked to specify the “areas of research on the prioritization of risks in buildings” BAFE believe that height is only partially significant when classifying building risk and noted two clear examples to illustrate this. The first being the Rosepark Care Home fire, that in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents, was not a tall multi-storey building. Recently was the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and Douglas Barnett, Chairman, BAFE, recently questioned at the FPA Seminar if lessons had been learned from this event. The second example was the fact that the greatest number of fires occur in domestic premises. Height should be one of the factors considered from the inception of the building design to the ongoing maintenance and risk assessment of any building, but categorically not the key factor to classify building risk. The consultation asked to specify the “areas of research on the prioritization of risks in buildings” that should be considered. fire safety related services Without hesitation BAFE noted materials. This is an obvious answer following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and the evidence that the materials used aided the fire to spread at such an alarming rate. Coinciding with this is competence, BAFE strongly believe in quality evidence of competency (such as UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification). Greater emphasis on regulating quality of any provider of fire safety related services working in a building is paramount to improving fire safety in existing buildings. The consultation asked to “provide innovative ideas” of approaching the assessment of risk in existing buildings In the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report, Dame Judith Hackitt discussed the “golden thread” of responsibility. Stronger regulation (i.e. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification) of fire safety service providers can aid in establishing a far more competent industry and a safer built environment. fire risk assessment The consultation asked to “provide innovative ideas” of approaching the assessment of risk in existing buildings. Although Third Party Certification of fire risk assessors has been established for a while now, it is still seen as a pioneering model to assess their ability to fulfil this task and needs further discussion in Government. This comes back to Hackitt’s aforementioned “golden thread” of responsibility and accountability. Current legislation and the enforcers of this (currently Fire and Rescue Service) need to emphasize the importance of competency when completing a fire risk assessment and what clearly defines this competency.
The Fire Protection Association’s (FPA) Building a Safer Future Seminar, held on Monday, January 27th, 2020 in London (sponsored by BAFE), played out the on-going discussion of competency within both the combined construction and fire safety industries. Chair of the event and Managing Director of the FPA, Jonathan O’Neill OBE, opened the seminar affirming his continued “whole-hearted” support for Third Party Certification, stating “I have been banging the drum for long enough on behalf of the FPA, and am delighted when the Fire Sector Federation decided to adopt Third Party Certification being one of its policy objectives in the forthcoming Building Regulations review”. Reflecting on Grenfell Fire Tragedy Chandru Dissanayeke also noted that Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry starts this week Chandru Dissanayeke, Director of Building Safety Reforms - MHCLG, began with his presentation explaining that his role since Grenfell has been to revisit the terrible events that unfolded on 14th June 2017 every day. He stated, “This was exhausting and emotionally draining but strongly emphasised that it was important, considering an event like Grenfell should never happen again”. Chandru Dissanayeke also noted that Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry starts this week. He said, “Phase 2 of the Inquiry will examine the circumstances and causes of the disaster, including how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread in the way identified in Phase 1.” Ensuring building fire safety Mr. Dissanayeke also discussed the new building safety programme and that it will be “delivered through measures to make existing buildings safer now and reforming the system for the future for new and existing buildings.” As at the UK Construction Week in October 2019, Chandru Dissanayeke underlined his presentation with the fact that this is a matter of protecting the legacy for future generations. He was very conscious that there is a desire for change and an impatience for Government to “get on with it” – referring to Jonathan O’Neill’s speech from the FPA’s Fire Sector Summit back in November. Importance of Third Party Certification During his time on stage, Mr. Dissanayeke said “Third Party Certification has a part to play in demonstrating the quality of designers, installers, maintainers and the materials used. It was described as a very good tool, but Government needs help and requires the [construction and fire safety] industry to step up and lead the way.” Douglas Barnett, Chairman – BAFE, opened his presentation stating, “Other than leaving the EU on Friday (31/01/2020), this date marks the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and questioned if lessons had been learned from this event. The Rosepark Care Home fire in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents.” Mr. Barnett argued very little action has been taken in those number of years [other than Scotland requiring sprinklers in new care homes and guidance from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland distributing information on using competent fire risk assessors]. He stressed on the need to push the Government, and the industry to work on this. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification There’s got to be an increase of recognition for competence and all elements of competence" Coming from the insurance sector (as Director of Customer Risk Management – AXA), Mr. Barnett stated that “competence is a massive, massive issue. There’s got to be an increase of recognition for competence and all elements of competence”. He noted the benefits of UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification pointing out the three key areas in gaining this and demonstrating competence: knowledge, skill and attitude. He stressed without the right attitude, it all falls down, stating “People have got to buy in to doing the right thing. Have you got the right attitude when you’re actually looking at what the client’s asking you to do?” Having all three elements of this “demonstrates a commitment to quality for the end client”. Compliance of Fire safety legislations Mr. Barnett also defined “not every Third Party Certification scheme is the same” and later discussed UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) who ensure the ‘checkers’ (i.e. Certification Bodies) are appropriate and can suitably assess the contractor to determine said competence. Further information on UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification can be found here Mr. Barnett noted “One thing that Jonathan [O’Neill] and the Fire Sector Federation did was look at statutory defence. This is actually a very quick win for legislators - is there a statutory defence if a building owner/manager has done as much as they can by using appropriate Third Party Certificated contractors?” Amendment to building regulations Mr. O’Neill added at this point stating, “The barrister came back with this his advice and said he thought it would be a very easy thing for Government to do, it would simply be a case of incorporating it in guidance. And as far as the Building Regulations were concerned, similarly a quick amendment to Approved Document B would probably suffice.” He continued, “now that we are seeing the Government go down the route of choosing the HSE, we are likely to see the adoption of approved codes of practice going forward.” Dennis Davis, Executive Officer – Fire Sector Federation, complimented Mr. Barnett’s presentation with reiterating the areas required to raise the bar of competency. Mr. Davis listed competency as knowledge and understanding, skills and application and reliability and responsibility (i.e. attitude). He noted the task is to bring the industry to acknowledge the three strands of competency and discussed the work of the Hackitt Review CSG (Competency Steering Group) and WG0 (Working Group 0 - Overarching Competence Body). He supplemented Jonathan O’Neill’s earlier comments by saying, “There is a big issue around culture, and I suspect one of the reasons the HSE has been appointed as the building regulator is to drive culture. They were brought in by the Deputy Prime Minister 20 years ago to stop deaths in the construction industry, and they have been extremely successful. And I think this is the same sort of logic to drive a culture through a process.” FPA’s Building a Safer Future Seminar FPA seminar covered multiple topics including smoke control, toxicity and the Fire and Rescue Service The seminar also covered multiple other topics including smoke control, toxicity and the implications for the Fire and Rescue Service post Grenfell. Importantly, Mark Hardingham, Chair of the NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) Protection and Business Safety Committee, highlighted his focus. Mark said, “Although Grenfell Tower has focused our attention on high rise residential buildings, they’re not the ones that keep me awake at night [as his role as Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer]. I’m much more focused around care homes, specialised housing, hospitals, student accommodation and others besides. The risk is there with high rise residential buildings, but I think there are from my perspective some equally significant, sometimes more significant, issues that we’re finding elsewhere in the built environment.” Effective building fire safety policies In the question and answer panels following presentations a question was asked to highlight the “priority items that could be addressed to try and take us forward, quickly and effectively, towards the levels of safety that the recent tragedies have demonstrated we need.” Mr. Davies responded “There are definitely quick wins. One quick win for example is Third Party assurance. Third Party assurance to us is one of the first steps in eradicating some poor quality and getting standards to a point where at least you know the people who are dealing with this issue, whatever the issue is, understand from a fire safety perspective.” Frazer Wisniewski, Marketing Manager – BAFE, also who attended the event commented, “The seminar thoroughly discussed the huge topic of competency and the development and scope for a far safer construction and built environment from fire. BAFE will continue to monitor and develop our portfolio of schemes to ensure they remain the best levels of evidence when demonstrating competency of contractors.” Providing efficient fire and rescue service Frazer added, “What is important is to stress, as Mark Hardingham touched on, is the discussion of competent fire safety and the need to apply this to all buildings – especially other potential high risk buildings with vulnerable residents such as care homes. High rise residential buildings have focused the attention, and now this needs to continue throughout the existing and new built environment. BAFE will continue to promote the value of Third Party Certification but require further support from the industry to raise public awareness to benefit everyone, from building management to the Fire and Rescue Service and looking forward, the HSE.”
Around five years ago, BAFE representatives went to see two Scottish Government civil servants to discuss fire safety and in particular Fire Risk Assessments. The responsibility for Tony Maskens, then BAFE Technical Schemes Manager, and Euan Robson, Governmental Adviser - Caledonia Public Affairs, was to explain that Fire Risk Assessors should be professionally qualified and certificated and at present there is no requirement for them to be so. When The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 was published it left Duty Holders with the responsibility to conduct Fire Risk Assessments on their premises. There was no real guidance as to how they might fulfil these responsibilities however. Proper Fire Risk Assessment The problem was that the Act required Duty Holders to have a proper Fire Risk Assessment There was a lack of understanding that quickly alerted BAFE to the fact that there was no recognition of these difficulties. The Act was then, and is now, entirely fit for purpose but too much was missing as far as its implementation was concerned. The background to the 2005 Scottish Act was the appalling fire at the Rose Park care home in Lanarkshire in 2004 (in which several elderly residents died). At the subsequent fatal accident enquiry, the Sheriff had made clear that Fire Risk Assessments should be carried out by properly qualified/certificated people. In short, the problem was that the Act required Duty Holders to have a proper Fire Risk Assessment but there was no signposting as to how to do this. Fire Risk Assessment providers BAFE began a long campaign to change the situation. It was also very apparent that, surprisingly, many Duty Holders had no idea as to their legal responsibilities. Many businesses simply did not know that they were required to have a Fire Risk Assessment let alone how to carry it out or whom to ask to do so. BAFE was able to provide part of the answer by discussing its SP205 Third Party Certification scheme for Fire Risk Assessment providers (BAFE SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment), as well as other Third Party Certification available covering Fire Risk Assessment. After rounds of meetings official thinking began to change. Several Parliamentary Questions and a debate, led by Michael McMahon MSP on the tenth anniversary of the Rose Park fire in his constituency, triggered a review of the Act by the Regulatory Reform Group set up by the Scottish Government to look at the effectiveness of regulations. Need For properly qualified people By 2016 fire service colleagues and civil servants were on board to a considerable degree Tony Maskens was invited to join the relevant RRG committee and with the help of fire industry colleagues, was able to craft the recommendations in a way which emphasised the need for properly qualified/certificated people to work in the field of fire safety. By 2016 fire service colleagues and civil servants were on board to a considerable degree. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's website was altered to signpost Duty Holders to Third Party Certificated Fire Risk Assessors. BAFE's SP205 scheme and others were clearly identified to enable Duty Holders to have comfort that what they were paying for was fit for purpose. Subsequently the Scottish fire law website was also altered. Moreover, strong references have been provided in Scottish Government Guidance issued for various types of premises in Scotland. Fire safety in high rise domestic properties Third Party Certification of Fire Risk Assessors is recommended for example in guidance on fire safety in sleeping accommodation. Now partly in response to the Grenfell tragedy, it is in guidance on fire safety in high rise domestic properties also. BAFE is not sitting back. Progress has indeed been made and the position that existed five or six years ago has been markedly improved. Nevertheless, there is a need for Scottish Government to actively promote an awareness scheme amongst Duty Holders - especially for small or medium-sized businesses located in complicated properties. As BAFE's Chairman Douglas Barnett has warned, awareness raising of the importance of a proper, professional Fire Risk Assessment in hotels and overnight accommodation is critical. Unwanted fire alarm signals What is even worse is that many of the UFAS calls originate in public sector premises BAFE continues to say that compulsory qualifications/certification may well be necessary in key types of premises if there is not a marked improvement in the quality of Fire Risk Assessments in the months ahead. BAFE's work in Scotland is not limited to Fire Risk Assessment. Unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS) are causing serious problems as in the rest of the UK. Astonishingly in some areas of the country, over 50% of monthly call outs for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are as a result of UFAS problems. This not only wastes precious resources but also unnecessarily puts emergency services personnel at risk and costs the organisations in whose premises the false alarm was raised a great deal of lost productivity. What is even worse is that many of the UFAS calls originate in public sector premises. In certain parts of Scotland, the NHS is the main culprit, in others, local councils' education establishments. Permitting quality levels of compliance BAFE has continuously stressed the value of Third Party Certification of installed systems and continues to propose measures to ensure the competence of the workforce as well as practical steps (such as inexpensive covers for emergency buttons to prevent accidental activation). BAFE's work has attracted the interest of MSPs and we intend to repeat a reception in the Scottish Parliament, as the last one in 2017 was well attended and received. Clarity of purpose and persistence is paying off, but it's all meant to protect the public from injury and death and to promote the value for specifiers and end users to procure their fire safety and protection services from Third Party Certificated contractors. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, comments: “BAFE are pleased about the continued development of Third Party Certification being made in Scotland. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have been very accommodating to listen and develop their guidance in the interest of competent assistance to permit quality levels of compliance to The Fire (Scotland) Act. We hope to continue this dialogue moving into the next decade to create a Scotland safer from fire.”