In our industry, ensuring fire safety measures meet stringent standards is of utmost importance. For years, key stakeholders such as the ASFP, leading tier 1 contractors, and specialist passive fire protection contractors have consistently underscored the necessity of requiring third-party accreditation for installers. However, is this requirement alone sufficient?

Third-party accreditation should be regarded as the fundamental requirement for both individuals and businesses involved in the installation of passive fire protection (PFP) products and systems. This accreditation serves as a vital indicator of competence and adherence to rigorous standards.

According to the Regularity Reform Fire Safety Order, anyone carrying out installations of fire safety measures are required to be deemed “competent persons”. However, this designation lacks clarity and can be subject to varied interpretations. For instance, does competency hinge solely on experience, or does it necessitate formal education? Can attending a brief 1-hour course suffice, or is a diploma required to demonstrate proficiency?

There’s been a widespread belief in the PFP industry that third-party accredited installers using third-party certified products are a reliable indicator of competence. However, upon closer examination of the accreditation requirements and its implementation, there appears to be a lack in robustness in ensuring companies holding this type of accreditation do carry out passive fire protection activities and installations in accordance with the specified standards.

All too often, it becomes apparent that some installers and employees in third-party accredited companies lack the necessary skill, knowledge, and experience required to fulfil their responsibilities up to the standard required to meet this crucial life safety measure.

Consequently, there’s an urgent need to establish concrete criteria, similar to the licensing standards applied to gas engineers. Under this framework, only individuals with a valid license are authorised to handle tasks involving boilers or gas pipes, as mandated by law due to these works being classed as life safety works. Similarly, passive fire protection should be regarded in the same manner, given their crucial role in preserving life safety. Hence, it’s imperative to verify that those individuals responsible for passive fire protection installations hold the necessary qualifications.

As a company, we view ASFP’s initiative known as the “Pass Mark” and competency pathway as a significant step toward enhancing the overall quality and standards within the PFP industry. This scheme not only requires that companies achieve the minimum requirements of being third-party accredited with a UKAS accredited body, but it goes further to ensure that individual installers within the company meet the criteria of the “Pass Mark”.

We look forward to the launch of the scheme and intend to be among the first companies to take part in this scheme.