Is It Time for a National Fire Safe Register?

Those working in the fire industry have long spoken about forming a national Fire Safe IFECregister, but for whatever reason, such a register has never got off the ground.

The oft-quoted comparison is the Gas Safe Register, a nationally recognised mark that must be used if maintenance or installation is being carried out on a gas system or appliance in your home or business. Engineers who work on a gas appliance in the United Kingdom are legally required to be on the Gas Safe Register. They will be in possession of an ID card which informs you exactly which types of work they are able to carry out — boiler maintenance, for instance.

In a workshop sponsored by BM TRADA at last week’s Fire Sector Summit chaired by Mike Wood, chairman of the Passive Fire Protection Federation, involving a range of experts from throughout the industry, including the ASFP, FBU, and Warrington Certification, the overwhelming answer to the question of whether the UK needs a Fire Safe Register was yes.

In fact, almost no one in the room opposed the idea. The problems with forming one, though, are fairly straightforward but no less insurmountable.

  • There will be no legal requirement to use a Fire Safe-registered professional; the Government’s policy of light regulation or deregulation has made this clear.
  • Who would run the scheme?
  • How would it be paid for?

Third-party certification

The most likely form of a Fire Safe Register would be as an umbrella scheme representing the third-party certification schemes that are already established. Any UKAS-approved third-party accreditation scheme would be eligible to be included in the register. This would cover areas such as fire door installation, fire risk assessment, and fire detection and alarm systems.

There are third-party schemes around already, such as BAFE SP205 for fire risk assessors and Warrington FIRAS for fire doors. Many of these are covered in the FIA’s recently published guide to third-party certification schemes.

Taking this as a blueprint for a national Fire Safe Register, you could then look to the backers of the third-party certification schemes to fund the idea. Marketing is the key here, because you would finally be bringing a whole raft of schemes and logos under an easily recognisable banner.

Water Safe Scheme

This has parallels with the industry-backed Water Safe Scheme. It is an umbrella scheme paid for and operated by seven Approved Contractors’ Schemes designed to give customers the confidence in their plumbers that they would already have in a Gas Safe Register engineer.

If this blueprint were followed, then what would stop the fire industry from forming a Fire Safe Register itself, independent of Government underpinning?

One delegate at the Fire Sector Summit, Warrington Certification’s Simon Ince, said with obvious frustration at the lack of a register, “Give me GB pound 10,000, and I’ll set it up tomorrow. All we need is a website.”

Fire Door Installer Register

Isn’t that a tantalising thought? And almost as if it had heard Ince speaking (maybe it did), BWF Certifire, the organiser of Fire Door Safety Week, announced this week that it is launching a Fire Door Installer Register at http://www.firedoorinstaller.co.uk/ . The register will launch in January, allowing any fire door installers with certification from BM TRADA, FIRAS, or IFC to join for free.

Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the British Woodworking Foundation, said in a press release:

  • Our intention with the Fire Door Installer Register is to close any gaps in the supply chain, so that we can ensure every building owner, estates or facilities manager can access third-party certificated fire doors and doorsets, and have them installed by properly qualified professionals.”

A closing thought from the Fire Sector Summit was that, yes, it might take five years, but let’s at least start moving on establishing a register. Could the Fire Door Installer Register be that first step?

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