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IFE launches recruitment drive to support competency frameworks

04 June 2024

THE INSTITUTION of Fire Engineers (IFE) has announced the launch of a new recruitment drive aimed at bolstering its volunteer cohort ahead of the commencement of the competency requirement in Section 156(4) of the Building Safety Act 2022 and the new British Standard focused squarely on fire risk assessor competence.

The fire risk assessor space is moving towards a system of conformity assessment and certification schemes are central to this. The IFE’s plan is all about making way for further opportunities to shape the industry’s standards and practices at what is certainly a challenging time.

Recruiting volunteers with diverse backgrounds and skills is critical to achieving the IFE’s mission in ensuring a comprehensive approach to advancing fire safety standards globally and ensuring visibility of competency levels right across the sector.

Voluntary roles are at the core of the IFE and vary from assessing competency levels for membership through to drafting examination papers that shape the fire safety workforce and helping to pave the way for the journey towards Engineering Council registration.

IFE Special Interest Groups are dedicated to developing expertise in various areas of fire safety, from heritage buildings and transport to emerging trends and electric vehicles. As we await publication of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry team’s final report in early September and forthcoming legislation changes, the evolving landscape of fire safety emphasises the increasing need for specialist expertise in the growing premise of safety subject areas.

Pivotal moment

The call for volunteers emerges at a pivotal moment in the fire safety sector, with the Industry Benchmark Standard from the Fire Sector Federation having already emphasised the importance of maintaining a suitable record of learning and development.

“The IFE recognises the critical role that competency plays in ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities,” affirmed Steve Hamm, CEO at the IFE. “As we prepare for the implementation of new competency frameworks, we are calling on passionate individuals from all aspects of the fire domain to join us in our mission to advance fire safety standards and practices. The instant demand for showcasing competencies in fire risk assessment will place an unprecedented demand on the current workforce. As such, we’re working with the Home Office to ensure the support is there.”

The Fire Competency Framework document illustrates the significance of robust record-keeping that demonstrates a commitment to quality and the ongoing professional development of individuals within the industry.

In the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt found the approach to competence within fire safety critical roles, including the role of the fire risk assessor, to be fragmented and lacking cohesion. Volunteers who support the competence agenda here will play a crucial role in supporting a robust verification system, in turn affording ‘Responsible Persons’ confidence in those assessors whom they appoint.

New legal duty

Section 156(4) of the Building Safety Act 2022, of course, amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to place a new legal duty on ‘Responsible Persons’ not to appoint an individual to assist them with making or reviewing a fire risk assessment unless that person is competent to do so.

Those IFE members who are interested in becoming a volunteer can visit the IFE website (details below) for further information and then submit an application. Those interested in being party to helping navigate the changes ahead and assisting the workforce demonstrate and align competencies in fire risk assessment will find this a most vital time for the industry.

*Further information is available online at www.ife.org.uk/volunteering