Liz Barbaro Sant
Why should end users use third party certificated companies when sourcing contractors for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of firefighting, fire detection and alarm systems. Even with the best equipment, fire detection, fire suppression, gas extinguishing and passive fire protection systems are only effective if they are correctly designed, installed, commissioned and maintained. It is therefore vitally important that specifiers select only competent installation companies who have independent third party approval. There is the need to keep people fully protected and ensure that the fire system is efficient and free of false alarms. Equally, in every organization there are budgetary pressures that often make the lowest-cost option seem the most attractive. In this context, quality can all too easily go out of the window. fire safety requirements Unless, that is, the persons responsible for fire safety remembers the obligations placed upon them. The legal obligation makes it their duty to ensure that the life safety system provides the highest-quality coverage and that the designer and the installer of that system are competent. Indeed, the law will always include the question of quality in equipment, design, installation and maintenance. If a serious fire breaks out on premises, for example, investigators will be looking for evidence that all reasonable protective measures have been taken and due diligence exercised. Cutting corners could result in prosecution and a criminal record. In this context, it is foolhardy to neglect the simple safety net of third-party approvals, which gives a building operator near-complete transparency and helps ensure quality. fire protection industry By using a third party certificated company, customers can be reassured that a contractor will perform to standards Contractors may talk a good story, explain they work to the standards and claim to have many satisfied customers. But how can they prove their competence? The most credible evidence of a business working to high standards can be provided by contractors who work to industry-recognized standards, and who then seek independent verification from an officially accredited third party certification body. By using a third party certificated company, customers can be reassured that a contractor will perform to standards. Contractors that choose the approval route, which is voluntary in the fire protection industry, are those that are genuinely committed to quality. To achieve accreditation, companies must undergo an audit to prove that their product or service complies with established industry standards. installation and maintenance In Europe, some of the highest profile third-party agencies include BRE and VDS for product approval, and BAFE and the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) for installation and maintenance. Certification involves inspection by a certifying body, of installation and maintenance procedures and is a statement of continued conformity. The assessment involves continued (6-monthly) surveillance visits. They review designs and inspect a number of Alberta Group’s sites for compliance. When the system of third-party accreditation offers such a substantial degree of reassurance, why neglect it when there are severe penalties for cutting corners?
A recent heart-breaking event in Marsascala was one of the key topics discussed at the seminar ‘Raising the bar’ earlier this week. Taking place only days after the tragic loss of a young man’s life through smoke inhalation, this perhaps unfortunately timed, yet clearly critically needed seminar, was an opportunity for various leaders in the industry and politicians to come together and explore a more cohesive approach to fire safety regulations in Malta and Gozo. Fire safety regulations The announcement of an upcoming building sector reform, provided the perfect backdrop for leaders in the property and construction industry to discuss key topics on how best to move forward. It was clear to everyone involved the disjointed relationship between existing, relatively unenforced fire safety regulations, and the entities that can help implement or enforce them, could no longer be sustained. The biggest question raised, where does the responsibility lie? Liz Barbaro Sant, Director at Alberta Group, stressed the importance of a moral obligation by each party involved Liz Barbaro Sant, Director at Alberta Group, stressed the importance of a moral obligation by each party involved – from the owner to the contractor, the designer to the engineer, to the eventual landlord and installers – to stop passing the proverbial ‘responsibility buck’ and equally, stop cutting corners when lives are stake. Operating fire systems At a time when all the fractions involved in construction will be held accountable for any tragedies, down to the final facility managers and even the technicians who operate fire systems, the time to improve levels of competency in the industry is now. Whilst too early to talk about the exact decisions the government will take in fixing the erratic and almost never enforced existing legislation, the move to unite several key bodies in the sector is a step in the right direction. These same concerns go beyond the shores. The British public is still visibly reeling from the Grenfell Tower disaster last June in which 71 people died through-out the 27-story tower blaze in just a matter of hours. Providing certified consultants This seminar, which Alberta sponsored and helped showed a willingness from all parties to work together Popular musician Stormzy took the opportunity on stage at the Brit Awards just this week to hit out at Prime Minister Theresa May over the perceived lack of action for the victims’ families. Again, raising the question where does the responsibility truly lie? This seminar, which Alberta both sponsored and helped co-ordinate, showed a willingness from all parties to work together. As Liz said, “We are heading in the right direction, but more must be done. Meanwhile, we will continue our corporate mission to raise awareness across the islands of the importance of taking the right safety measures for commercial and residential properties and providing certified consultants, technicians and installers to keep our buildings safe.” She continued, “Built out of stone or not, fires must be prevented, and safety measures have to be put in place – because as we have all seen, hindsight won’t help save lives that are already lost.”