Frequently asked questions


All the details relating to membership criteria, how you can join and how we can help you achieve the required criteria can be found in our membership section
The annual fee for a member company is based on the fire-related annual turnover of the company. See the full fee structure

As a general rule our courses start at 9am and finish around 5pm, though on occasion they might be a bit later. We recommend delegates arrive at 8.30am for registration.

There will be an exam held for each course.
All delegates have to pass the Foundation course before been able to book the advanced units.
No all our training units are open and anyone may attend. However if you are interested in becoming a member of FIA please telephone our Sales Manager on 020 3166 5002
Yes, we are happy to run dedicated training courses. For more information telephone our Training Co-ordinator on 020 3166 5002

There’s is no set limit in the UK standards for the service life of a fire extinguisher.

Manufacturers will give a warranty period for new extinguishers as you would expect for all new products.

In many situations (including the following) the UK’s extinguisher maintenance standard, BS 5306-3, recommends that the extinguishers are condemned, effectively ending their service lives:
•    certain types of corrosion
•    dents or gouges to the body
•    any plastics lining being split, lifted or detached
•    UV degradation of plastic components
•    the extinguisher not being able to be maintained due to parts being unobtainable

Additionally, as with all maintenance, there is always an economic decision to be made before undertaking maintenance, particularly when it requires work and/or parts that are costly in relation to the value of the equipment. For extinguishers, common examples of such occasions include the time of the extended service or overhaul. In such circumstances, replacement may be the preferred option.

Lastly, it is also worth reminding the reader that sometimes perfectly serviceable extinguishers may nonetheless need replacing as they may be entirely unsuitable for their intended use.

This question refers to this picture:

No the breaking strain required to break the OK disc AND the pull-tite seal will probably be more than that allowable in EN3-7, 20-100N. Where a pin and disc device is fitted (example below) this should always be replaced as a complete assembly, the omission of the disc and replacement by a pull-tite seal is not acceptable and could cause a failure to operate.


This normally means that the completed product has passed through the "factory gate" and has effectively been introduced into the commercial supply chain.
It is important to note that the CE Mark is not a quality mark. In relation to the Pressure Equipment Regulations it only signifies that the product meets essential safety requirements in relation to its pressurisation. The recognised quality marks e.g. the BAFE mark, BSI kitemark and the LPCB mark should continue to be recognised as the appropriate quality marks.

There is no predetermined or fixed lifetime for a fire detection and alarm system as this will depend on the technology used and the environment at the site. In general control and indication equipment, power supplies, manual call points and heat detectors have a long life expectancy, while other forms of detection will have a limited life expectancy.

Carbon monoxide (CO) fire detectors have a set and predetermined life and should be replaced as per manufacturers’ instructions. Smoke detectors, including beam detectors and aspirating detectors, will have a variable life expectancy that largely depends on the environment at the site.

Generally, equipment manufacturers will be the best guide to an expected lifetime for a particular product in a particular environment. In most situations the expected life of a systems and its components can be extended by carrying out regular and appropriate maintenance.

Further information is available from the FIA Guidance on the life expectancy of a fire detection and alarm system.

Read our Guidance document


Since January 2014 visual alarm devices (VAD) should meet the requirements of EN 54-23. This has led to some confusion regarding the use of combined sounder beacon devices where the beacon element does not comply with EN 54-23. The use of such devices is acceptable while understanding that the beacon element must be regarded as a supplementary visual indicating device (VID) and is not expected to provide a primary alarm warning signal for alerting or evacuating the occupants of the building.

The requirements of any fire detection and alarm system should come from the determinations of a fire risk assessment and the emergency evacuation procedures. If this risk assessment does not identify the need for a VAD then combined sounder beacon bases can provide a supplementary visual indication that will increase the awareness of people to an event. However manufacturers should make a clear declaration that the device is not to be applied as a visual alarm device as defined by EN 54-23.

For further information refer to the FIA Guidance on the application of primary visual alarm devices and supplementary visual indication devices.

EC Regulation 517/2014 is to contain, prevent and reduce emissions of Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (F-Gases) covered by the Kyoto Protocol in order to combat climate change. This regulation replaces the original regulation EC 842/2006.

In the case of fire protection users of these systems have numerous obligations to prevent leakage of F-Gas extinguishants, especially for any equipment containing 5kg CO2 equivalent or more of agent.

There are many obligations that apply to fire protection systems suppliers and maintenance contractors, especially relating to the use of appropriately qualified personnel and certification of companies.

The FIA is able to help with training for your personnel and certification

The Regulations apply to all businesses that carry out installation, maintenance or servicing of fire protection systems that contain, or are designed to contain, F-Gas extinguishants. If this is the case you must obtain either an Company Certificate.

If you carry out this kind of work you must hold a company certificate.

Download an application form


The F-Gases in use in Europe in fire extinguishing systems and portable fire extinguishers are:

  •     HFC-23 (known as FE-13)
  •     HFC-125 (known as FE25, ECARGO, NAF 125)
  •     HFC 227ea (known as FM 200, FE 227, NAF 227)
  •     HFC 236fa (known as FE 36)

If your business does not have a company certificate it will be liable to enforcement measures from your local authority.  The Regulations place strict obligations on businesses amd if you are not certificated you will be placing your customers at risk.

In addition, suppliers of refrigerant gases and equipment are supporters of the Regulations and may ask to see you company certificate before filling any orders you place.

For a company certificate, businesses must prove that the engineers who carry out work on F-Gas systems are qualified. For details of certification and/or training go to:

Businesses must also confirm, by declaration, that they have appropriate recovery systems and extinguishant handling procedures.

A full certificate is valid for five years costs £290. Re-certification thereafter costs £140.

Full certificates are valid for five years from the date of issue and must be renewed on or before their expiry date.

Businesses that hold a full company certificate may be subject to an annual audit, which may be a desktop or on-site audit. The FIA will annually select a percentage of certificated businesses to be inspected.

No, If you are engaged in working on F-Gas equipment then you must be (individually) certificated and you must be employed (PAYE) by an F-Gas Certificated company organisation.

If you employ a sub-contractor then they must have their own certificate and you cannot apply for a certificate on their behalf.

REACH is a new European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals.  It came into force in 1 June 2007 and replaces a number of European Directives and Regulations with a single system.  REACH has several aims:

  • To provide a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the use of chemicals.
  • To make the people who place chemicals on the market (manufacturers and importers) responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use.
  • To allow the free mo vement of substances on the EU market.
  • To enhance innovation in, and the competitiveness of, the EU chemicals industry.
  • To promote the use of alternative methods for the assessment of hazardous properties of substances e.g. quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) and read across.

Since 1 December 2008, chemical substances manufactured in Europe in amounts of 1 tonne per year or more have needed to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki.

It is only chemicals on their own that are registered, not deliberate mixtures of chemicals (formulations/preparations).  Where a chemical is supplied or used as part of a deliberate mixture, for example where it is produced and used in a solvent or as part of a product (e.g. paints or glues etc.), it is the individual ingredients that are registered. In some cases substances in articles need to be registered.

There are a few exceptions, including radioactive substances, those in customs warehouses intended for re-export outside the EU/EEA, substances in transit and waste (as defined in EU Directives). Only selected parts of REACH apply to some chemicals, e.g. human and veterinary medicines, food and food additives. For others, e.g. intermediates, there are reduced requirements under certain circumstances, and some substances are treated as if they are already registered.

The European Chemical Agency has a search facility on its website to allow users to search to find out if a chemical has been registered. It also has downloadable lists of the chemicals registered.

If the substance you use is not on the list, you should notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), via the ECHA website, of your interest in this substance - giving your contact details and those of your current supplier. The Agency will then 'advertise' on their website for a registrant for the particular substance. If anyone comes forward to take on the responsibility they will be provided with your contact details as the downstream user of the substance.

As the 1 December 2008 deadline for general pre-registration has already passed, the only pre-registration function now available is for late pre-registration.

For a substance to be eligible for late pre-registration the substance must be what is known as a 'phase-in' substance.  This means that:

  • The substance is listed on EINECS, i.e. those on the EU market before 1981
  • The substance was manufactured in the Community or in countreis acceding to the EU on 1 January 1995 or on 1 May 2004, but not placed on the market by the manufacturer, at least once in the 15 years before entry into force of this Regulation, provided the manufacturer has documentary evidence of this. (Basically, these are substances that have been made in the EU but not placed on the market there. They will generally be site limited or export only substances.  Evidence of this should be available if challenged).
  • The substance is a so called 'no longer polymer'

In addition, it must be the first time that the substance has been imported or manufactured in quantities of one tonne per year or more by the legal entitiy in question. This needs to be done within 6 months of the first import/manufacture and no later than 12 months prior to the appropriate registration deadline.

If it is not the first time the substance has been places on the market then the substance must be registered.

The Enforcement Regulations allow for a breach of a listed REACH provision to be tried summarily (e.g. in Magistrates Courts) or on indictment (e.g. in Crown Courts), and provide that the same potential maxima permitted under the European Communities Act 1972. These are currently:

  •     up to £5,000 fine and/or up to three months imprisonment following summary conviction


  •     an unlimited fine and/or up to two years imprisonment following conviction on indictment

The Enforcement Regulations also provide for a number of supplementary criminal offences.  These include obstruction of inspector, prviding false statements, failing to comply wuth enforcement notices, and so on.  These supplementary offences are also the subject of criminal penalties wfich are consistent with those above.

This normally means that the completed product has passed through the "factory gate" and has effectively been introduced into the commercial supply chain.
A Distributor is any natural or legal person established within the community, including a retailer, who only stores and places on the market a substance, on its own or in a preparation, for third parties.

The authorities given enforcement responsibility by the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 are those with eisting remits to protect human health consumer safety and the environment:

  •     Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  •     Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)
  •     Environment Agency (EA)
  •     Scottish Environment Protection Agency (NIEA)
  •     Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)


  •     Local Authorities (LAs), as regards health and safety and consumer protection (Trading Standards)

Regulation 3 and Schedule 1 of the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 sets out which enforcing authority is responsible for enforcing the listed REACH provisions, though broadly speaking:

  • HSE, in its capacity as UK REACH CA, will enforce those duties in REACH concerning registration
  • HSE in Great Britain and HSENI in Northern Ireland will enforce supply chain related duties up to the point of retail sale, and for the retail sale local authority trading standards departments are responsible
A CSR should be completed for all substances subject to registration in quantities of 10 tonnes or more per year per registrant, and is a document of the chemical safty assessment.
This is carried out for all registered substances manufactured or imported at 10 tonnes per year or greater. It should address all the identified uses of a substance on its own (including any major impurities and additives), in a preparation and in an article. The assessment shall consider all stages of the life-cycle of the substance with the known or reasonably foreseeable exposure of man and/or the environment to that substance, taking into account implemented and recommended risk management measures and operational conditions.
The authority or authorities or bodies established by the Member States to carry out the oblications arising from the REACH Regulation. In the UK the HSE is the Competent Authority.
A SIEF is the Substance Information Exchange Fora.  SIEF participants should include all relevant actors submitting information to the Agency on the same substance.

An article is defined in REACH as 'an object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determines its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition'.

Generally an article is usually a finished product.  Some examples of articles are clear cut, e.g. a telephone, a chair and a car (a car is an article made up of other articles - wheels, seats etc). However, sometimes it is not easy to tell if something meets this definition, e.g. a metal bar can be an article if it has already been produced with a shape or size so that it can be engineered into another object (which will itself be an article).  However, it will not be an article if it hasn't been produced this way and is simply melted to make another metallic object. It is the duty of the manufacturer/importer to decide if they are dealing with an article (where the shape, surface or design is most important) or a substance/preparation (where chemical composition is most important).

Packaging is usually considered as an article under REACH. If you receive goods to your premises from outside the EU or supply goods which are packaged, you need to consider the issues below for packaging.

Note: you are not required to submit a registration to the ECHA for an article, rather it is the substance(s) in the article that may, in specific circumstances, be subject to (registration) requirements under REACH.

Exposure Scenarios are the set of conditions, including operational conditions and risk management measures, that describe how a substance is manufactured or used during its life-cycle and how the manufacturer or importer controls, or recommends downstream users to control, exposure of humans and the environment. These exposure scenarios may cover one specific process or use several processes or uses as appropriate.

In line with other EU directives and regulations, placing on the market is defined as:

  • Supplying or making available, whether in return for payment or free of charge, to a third party
  • Importing is deemed to be placing on the market
A Downstream User is any natural or legal person established within the community, other than the manufacturer or importer, who uses a substance, either on its own or in a preparation, in the course of his industrial or professional activities. A distributor or a consumer is not a downstream user.
A Manufacturer is defined as any natural or legal person established within the community who manufactures a substance within the community.
An Importer is defined as any natural or legal person established within the community who is responsible for directly importing anything from outside the EU/EEA, be it chemical substances (including metals), mixtures (e.g. paints, cosmetics), articles (finished products e.g. clothes or plastic goods) or articles that contain substances intended for release (e.g. a scented bin-liner).
The ECHA is the agency established for the purposes of managing, and in some cases carrying out, the technical, scientific and administrative aspects of the REACH Regulation, and to ensure consistency at Community level in relation to these aspects. The Agency is based in Helsinki, Finland.