28 September 2015
This is a common myth believed by members of the public, including those responsible for commercial buildings. Experience in the Fire & Rescue Service does provide an understanding of fire behaviour and some understanding of the response of building construction to a fire. However, this is not the same as an understanding of the principles and practise of fire safety. Within the Fire & Rescue Service, fire safety and its enforcement is a specialist discipline. Even if a fire fighter has spent an entire career within the fire and rescue service and has reached senior officer level, they will not necessarily have been exposed to the practise of fire safety to the extent necessary to carry out the fire risk assessments required by fire safety legislation.
Equally, many specialist fire safety officers from Fire & Rescue Services do pursue a career in the private sector after leaving the Fire & Rescue Service, and may be very competent in the field of fire risk assessment. It is difficult for members of the public to make a judgement of the competence of those with fire and rescue experience (and indeed any other experience, such as in the field of health and safety) to carry out a fire risk assessment. For this reason, various professional bodies and certification bodies maintain registers of persons independently verified as competent in fire risk assessment.There are also certification schemes for companies that offer fire risk assessment services; where a duty holder wishes a third party to carry out their fire risk assessment, the use of companies that are third party certificated by a UKAS-accredited Certification Body to carry out fire risk assessments is recommended by the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council, as such companies not only employ competent fire risk assessors but have in place management systems to ensure the quality of the assessments. All members of the FIA listed on the FIA website as offering fire risk assessment services are third party certificated. Further information on registration and certification schemes for fire risk assessors and fire risk assessment companies can be found here