Experts at Exova Warringtonfire have welcomed the endorsement of a government body in support of its call for the creation of a register of fire risk assessors. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) says it expects one or more registers to be created whose certification process has been ‘independently quality assured.’
The DCLG, along with the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA), has welcomed the fire sector’s lead in developing criteria against which fire risk assessors can be assessed. An online poll has also overwhelmingly indicated a demand by the industry for a national register.
Simon Ince, manager for personnel certification schemes at Warrington Certification Ltd (WCL), part of Exova Warringtonfire, believes the answer to the industry-wide issue is a single fire risk assessment register promoted through end users. He said: “We now need DCLG and CFOA to encourage end user demand for a register of approved assessors. We need a consistent benchmark of approval for assessors to be entered onto the list and then for it to be the starting point for end users when looking for fire risk guidance.
“Assessors would soon realise that if they couldn’t meet the standards required to make it onto the register they would start to miss out on valuable work and tenders.”
The DCLG’s response adds: “The fire risk assessment process must be improved by ensuring the people conducting them are properly qualified for the task. We will continue to support the work of the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council, and expect the outcome of its work to be one or more registers of competent risk assessors whose certification process has been independently quality assured.
“This will offer those with responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 greater confidence in identifying those with an appropriate level of competency to help them comply with the legislation.”
Training and accreditation
The Government has reiterated that it has no plans to introduce a mandatory standard for training and accreditation of fire risk assessors, nor of amending the fire safety provisions of the Building Regulations.
The comments from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are among the formal responses published by the London Assembly to its December 2010 report into fire risks in tall and timber framed buildings. The courts continue to see prosecutions brought against those found to be in breach of the legislation as standards of fire risk assessments continue to suffer, with around 40% of audited premises found to be unsatisfactory by the Fire and Rescue Service.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the ‘responsible person’ (the owner, manager or employer) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.
Support the industry
In a new national register, WCL sees a listing working for the responsible person and supporting the industry to marginalise the cowboys. It would offer safety and assurance for the user and include a technical capability reference of the assessor, professional indemnity of all assessors and a code of professional conduct to ensure all ethical and professional protocols are followed and maintained.
WCL’s own Fire Risk Assessors Competency Scheme (FRACS) will adopt the competence standard for fire risk assessors once the Competence Council publishes it later this year. Initial evaluation suggests that only very minor additions need be added to the technical schedule.