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Manufacturer’s viewpoint - June 2018

22 May 2018

Fire Industry Association (FIA) chief executive Ian Moore explains how the Association is raising industry standards by making its training courses more challenging.

WHEN THE Fire Industry Association attained Awarding Organisation status our aim was to raise the bar and raise industry standards. We decided to introduce exam questions to a level three standard, which is seen to be at A-level standard and was deemed to be difficult enough to match the level being taught. Previous training courses would not have expected to have achieved this standard on a two-day or three-day course and then be able to pass an exam at the end of it to an A-level standard.

There is a pre-knowledge expectation for those sitting this exam, so if you have a lot of new guys looking for some introductory training, then this would not be for them. Experienced people coming in for some training have found it extremely difficult, as they had not kept up to date with the latest standards and approvals. Keeping up with continual professional development (CPD) needs to become a normal thing to do. 

We had a lot or failures on the initial training courses because the level was so high. I suspect there was an expectation to just turn up and receive an attendance certificate or do a small multi-choice exam, but this is not the case. We all find that we don’t know as much as we think we do and I put myself in that bracket as well. The tests are quite complex and quite deep as they need to be at a level that stretches your intelligence. 

Rather than a question asking the diameter of coverage of a smoke detector, which everyone in our trade knows is 7.5 metres, we would require a bit more of a challenge. For example, we may ask how many smoke detectors should be fitted in a building of a particular size, so there is a bit of a calculation involved.

We need this industry to offer us acceptance in raising this bar, as we are not for profit, so we are not doing this to try and make more money, as we just invest this back in the industry anyway. We are trying to set a bar on professionalism. We want the industry to accept what we are trying to achieve and also, we would like the government to support us by insisting that people have this level of qualifications. 

The industry is starting to up its game, and we find that pre-course reading is being taken more seriously. This is not an easy exam, and if you pass you really are a qualified engineer.

Ian Moore is chief executive of the Fire Industry Association. For more information, visit www.fia.uk.com