What is Third Party Certification and how can the FIA help ?
Over the last 5 years, our industry has been dramatically changing with the majority saying that it has been for the better. The focus on raising the bar on professionalism through competency and third-party certification (TPC) are two of the key ways that the UK fire safety industry is making itself smarter, better and safer whilst we wait for the Government to pass the latest slew of much anticipated national legislation. For instance, the Building Safety Bill which is set to implement many of the recommendations from the Hackitt Report aims to ensure that tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower fire are tragic anomalies that do not become commonplace.
The FIA welcomed the Hackitt Report as we have been calling for many years for improvements to the regulatory environment and competency levels in the UK fire safety industry. Our work has been instrumental in ensuring that industry competency levels are improving by providing a range of industry-best training courses for individuals and a membership criterion that demands company certification to a relevant third-party scheme. In these ways, it takes responsibility for both promoting competency in the sector and providing assurance that FIA members take as much responsibility as possible to deliver credibility and the very highest quality in the provision of products and services.
To this end, we are proud to partner with Igneo, a new industry initiative that reveals whether organisations still have TPC, the appropriate insurance and other documents that they claim. This adds an additional layer of transparency to our industry that will enable end-users to know they are getting what it says on the tin; whilst simultaneously ensuring that organisations in the fire safety are not resting on their laurels when it comes to providing proof of competency such as TPC.
This is of particular relevance to the end-users; the people at companies up and down the country who are responsible for procuring the services of fire safety companies. This person is referred to as the responsible person and it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure they are using the services of a competent company. The “Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005” states that any work carried out on fire protection systems must be completed by a competent person. By using companies that are third-party certified, end users can demonstrate that they have done everything possible to select a competent company, with competent individuals to provide them with fire protection services. Failure to do so can result in complications with insurance claims or even invalidate insurance entirely. Responsible persons have also found themselves subject to costly fines, legal fees, loss of property, loss of business and at worst the loss of life resulting in prison time for the most serious cases.
Consequently, an ever-growing number of public and private businesses, as well as insurance providers are now requiring TPC as a must. Resultingly, those in the fire safety industry who do not have TPC could lose out on significant markets such as public bodies, local authorities, government departments, hospitals, schools and education authorities to name but a few. By becoming third party certified it demonstrates by submitting your company to an annual audit by an outside UKAS accredited certification body, that you are an organisation that follows rules and are suitable to be designing, installing, maintaining or commissioning systems and equipment that saves lives.
For those who have not yet taken the positive step to achieve TPC we understand it can be a step into the unknown. Understandably it can be a worry if you’re planning to get certified and then don’t get recommended for certification after the audit. This can add extra time, cost and energy onto obtaining certification – an additional hassle that no business needs. If you are looking to show your company’s competence and become third party certified but are apprehensive, unsure or don’t know where to start then you may wish to consider the FIA’s Route to Certification Package.