As the nation moves towards stronger responsibility and accountability for fire safety measures, the BAFE Fire Safety Register reiterate their message on the significance of UKAS-accredited third-party certification. BAFE’s ‘Don’t just Specify, Verify’ campaign launched in March 2020 identifies the important second, and sometimes overlooked, verification stage when premises management source competent third-party certificated organisations to help comply with their fire safety obligations.
Since then, the campaign has generated substantial industry support from significant organisations including UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service), Fire Sector Federation (FSF), Construction Industry Council (CIC), with the addition of multiple Certification Bodies, Trade Associations and Professional Bodies. This unified support is testament to the quality message the campaign represents.
Lewis Ramsay, Caretaker Manager and Board Member for BAFE, points out: ‘With most buildings now returning to near pre-covid operation, it is imperative this message is repeated in the interest of life safety. Over the last decade, BAFE have witnessed third-party certification becoming a clear stipulation for fire safety work, but it would be far more reassuring to determine if premises management are also verifying this prior to awarding any contract and letting work commence on-site. This verification process should be recorded to demonstrate full due diligence. This is a very straightforward and quick exercise which can be extremely beneficial to evidencing your own quality procedures in sourcing quality contractors to fulfil specific works.’
Discussed in multiple government and Fire and Rescue guidance documents, third-party certification is a method of determining if an organisation has quality evidence of their competency to fulfil specific work. Government fire safety guidance documents note: ‘Third-party quality assurance can offer comfort both as a means of satisfying you that goods and services you have purchased are fit for purpose, and as a means of demonstrating that you have complied with the law.’ Importantly, this also notes the use of subcontractors, stating to check if they ‘are subject to the same level of checks of quality and competence as the company you are employing.’ There is a huge amount of responsibility on the shoulders of premises management (and their designated Responsible Persons/Duty Holders) which needs to be thoroughly executed.
The BAFE Fire Safety Register believe the verification of fire safety organisations is of vital importance in today’s landscape regarding specific competency within the life safety arena. Graham Watts OBE, Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) commented: ‘[We] support BAFE’s Don’t Just Specify, Verify campaign because when it comes to the built environment, competency matters. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification is an important factor when evaluating a contractor’s competency. Moving forward there is a strong requirement for consistent competence in delivering safety related works.’
Whilst BAFE schemes are available for third-party certification of contractors operating in the fire safety sector, it is important to stress this message applies to all appropriate UKAS accredited third-party certification schemes that are available to the fire safety industry. Premises management should always be looking for appropriate third-party certification and in the instance that you require specific services that BAFE schemes do not cover, it is still strongly advised to check if your chosen provider is suitably third-party certificated via another organisation.
Organisations can offer their support to the BAFE ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify’ campaign by visiting the BAFE website: www.bafe.org.uk/dont-just-specify-verify-show-your-support
Further information on BAFE’s ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify’ campaign: www.bafe.org.uk/bafe-fire-safety-guidance/don’t-just-specify-verify-third-party-certification