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Grenfell Tower Inquiry raises issues on lack of regulation for fire risk assessment providers

25 April 2021

BACK IN late March, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Module 3 discussed the status of regulation within the professional fire risk assessment service market. This adds to the larger issue of the current landscape of fire safety and the ability of organisations to fulfil specific tasks to a competent standard.

In the Module 3 Opening Statements delivered on Monday 29 March, James Maxwell-Scott QC speaking on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)  stated: “Industry practice is likely also to be relevant to your consideration of the fire risk assessments carried out on Grenfell Tower. In an ideal world, fire risk assessments would always be carried out by someone of the calibre of Mr (Colin) Todd or Dr (Barbara) Lane, but this is not an ideal world and it was never intended that the task of carrying out fire risk assessments be reserved to qualified fire safety engineers.”

Maxwell-Scott continued: “For it to have been, the Government would have needed to pass legislation regulating the sector. In fact, the sector was and remains completely unregulated. No qualifications are required by law. No training is required by law. There was and is no bar whatsoever to anyone seeking to go into business as a fire risk assessor.” [Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Day 114, 29 March 2021 (Opus 2 - Official Court Reporters Transcript)]

BAFE has been involved in the activity of the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council/Fire Sector Federation and the formulation of its recently-published ‘Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor’ which cites the BAFE SP205 Scheme as a quality option of providing evidence of competency for organisations delivering fire risk assessment services.

According to BAFE, what’s needed is stronger regulation. Evidence of defined competency should be required to deliver such an important life safety service.

Hackitt Working Group WG4

The Hackitt Working Group WG4 is also considering detailed competence requirements for fire risk assessors to be part of a qualifications process. UKAS-accredited third party certification has been called for to be mandatory for fire protection services for some time. BAFE fully supports this.

Lewis Ramsay QFSM, Board director at BAFE, commented: BAFE and the UKAS-accredited third party certification market are prepared and ready for mandatory evidence of competency measures to be introduced. We strongly believe that third party certification of fire risk assessment organisations is of vital importance and should be required by law.”

Ramsay went on to state: “The BAFE SP205 Scheme on Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment outlines the need for an understanding around the limitations of an organisation’s abilities to provide fire risk assessments for buildings of particular scopes. Assessors being used under these stringent requirements should be appropriate if this became a compulsory requirement as competent providers must refuse work that they are not capable of undertaking.”