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BAFE launches FireQual Awarding Organisation in wake of FIA AO acquisition

01 September 2020

FOLLOWING ON from last week’s news of BAFE’s acquisition of the Fire Industry Association’s (FIA) Awarding Organisation (AO), BAFE has now issued further details in terms of what happens next.

As reported by Fire Safety Matters last week, BAFE and the FIA announced the acquisition of the FIA AO by BAFE FireQual Ltd. BAFE strongly believes this will be a significant opportunity for the fire industry to develop an exciting range of accredited qualifications designed to meet the demand for quality assurance of individual skill and expertise required by the industry.

This necessity was heightened by the Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent reports on that tragedy compiled by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Competency Steering Group. In the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report, Dame Judith references “the lack of a coherent approach to competence levels and experience required – or professional qualifications where these may be necessary – and how these qualifications and experience should be evidenced so that they’re clearly understood by all those operating within the system.”

FireQual Ltd will operate as a separate wholly-owned subsidiary of BAFE with its own Board of Directors, and will be led by a newly-appointed qualifications manager with a wide experience at a senior level in the qualifications sector. The FireQual Ltd Board currently is made up of chairman Lewis Ramsay (former Deputy Chief Fire Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service), Pauline Traetto (previously the executive director of the BRE Academy), Douglas Barnett (chairman of BAFE) and also BAFE’s CEO Stephen Adams.

For clarity, FireQual Ltd will only offer examinations and qualifications. Neither BAFE nor FireQual Ltd will be delivering any training. FireQual Ltd will be working with licensed training organisations (including the FIA) who will offer the approved syllabuses to their learners. BAFE considers this separation from training and examination/invigilation, as currently operated at BAFE with the BS 5306 fire extinguisher examination, to be important when it comes to delivering independent quality assurance of the process.

Natural synergies

Stephen Adams commented: “There are natural synergies that will occur along with the BAFE ethos of third party certification for companies delivered through licensed [ie UKAS-accredited] certification bodies. We believe that the introduction of accredited qualifications will only enhance the BAFE company schemes. These are not to be thought of as one or the other. BAFE will continue to monitor company assurance of specific service competency which holds important value. FireQual Ltd will develop qualifications for individual expertise for specific services, whether the candidate works for a BAFE-registered company or otherwise.”

Following the acquisition, the FIA AO will continue to deliver its examinations until FireQual Ltd has established the necessary systems and delivery processes. FireQual Ltd aims to make this transition as quickly as possible with all the requirements for OFQUAL and the equivalent standards in Scotland and Wales already under way.

FireQual Ltd will take the opportunity to contact a wide range of organisations that currently deliver training across all aspects of fire safety to consider the application of the new range of qualifications that it will be reviewing. FireQual Ltd welcomes any approaches to consider how this should develop and looks forward to collaborating with the industry to progress the future of individual qualifications for the fire safety industry.

*For further information on FireQual visit www.firequal.com