Earlier this year in Housing Association Magazine, Stephen Adams (BAFE Chief Executive), said “Housing Associations, Groups and Trusts must ensure they are adhering to the relevant parts that apply to them in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland). It is imperative in this instance that quality providers are used to ensure a safe building where untrained and potentially vulnerable people reside”.
Be compliant with fire safety law
In February this year, Southwark Council were fined £570,000 for fire safety failings. In July 2009, six people died in the fire that occurred at the Lakenal House tower block.
“All landlords, including large housing providers, such as councils and housing associations, have a clear responsibility under the law that their premises meet all fire safety requirements and are effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire and keep their residents safe.”
- Dan Daly (London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner for fire safety)
If you are not confident in your ability to fulfil your fire safety obligations you should be employing providers to help you meet these to the highest standards.
How can you ensure quality providers are being used for your fire safety works?
There are many companies up and down the country that offer fire safety services, so who can you trust to be a competent provider who will deliver the right works for your building? One very strong option is to use a company that has gained third party certification to fulfil your requirements. Third party certification is a completely independent method of a company gaining evidence of their competency to provide a specific service.
Don’t neglect to maintain your fire systems and provisions
It is a good feeling when you have created a quality fire risk assessment, provided correct fire extinguishers and installed a new fire system such as a detection/alarm or emergency lighting knowing your building is safe. However, ongoing maintenance of these is just as important to ensure they continue to provide a safe environment to be in. This is part of your fire safety legal obligations and should be performed by a competent provider.
Why is third party certification important?
Without third party certification, there is little in the industry that can offer independent, unbiased approval that a company can competently deliver what they claim. This is of vital importance with fire safety, as this is always discussing life safety.
Government fire safety guidance documents state “Third-party certification schemes for fire protection products and related services are an effective means of providing the fullest possible assurances, offering a level of quality, reliability and safety that non-certificated products may lack”
Where can I find a third party certified company to help fulfil my fire safety obligations?
BAFE, the independent registration body for third party certified fire protection companies across the UK is available to use for free to find competent companies near you (www.bafe.org.uk).
It is important to use competent providers, certified in the specific service that you require. You wouldn’t use a dentist to perform heart surgery, so why would you use a company certified to provide sprinklers to fulfil your fire risk assessment? On the BAFE website you can search for companies certified in specific areas to ensure you are using a competent provider for these required works.