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Manufacturer's viewpoint - June 2019

21 May 2019

Ian Moore explains how we can all become more competent to ensure that we get things right.

COMPETENCY IS going to be an overused word soon that we have to be a little bit scared of – that people get a little bit bored of hearing. A bit like Brexit. As soon as you say Brexit people's reaction is one of “Oh not again”. So we have to be careful that competency does not become the Brexit word.

A lot of stuff is going on with working groups. In Dame Judith Hackitt's report competency was mentioned 270+ times, and it has become the buzz word, so we really have to make sure it is actually understood what defines competency, because it is an easy word and is like saying that something is good or great, but with competency you really need to set a bar so that you can define it. You can do that in companies or as individuals, and as far as we are concerned, both. Because if you have every individual qualified to a certain preset level and you had every company effectively qualified to a preset level, then you are doing the best you can do.

There will always be more you can do as there is always continued education where things like CPD comes in for individuals and companies as well. Making sure that when their audits are done on there ISO 9001 or their BAFE Certification (as an example), the auditors come round to make sure they are still doing the things that they signed up to do. If you keep the individuals and companies on line with that, then they are constantly looking at the latest regulations, information and best practice, then you are doing everything that you can possibly do.

We honestly believe that this push towards statutory defence on this is a step forward. People can actually ask, “What else do you expect me to do? I am doing everything I can by using third-party certified companies, if I am using individuals that are nationally qualified to a certain level, there is nothing else I can do. The bottom line is I can claim some statutory defence on that basis.”

The FIA still believe that mandatory use of those two is best – individuals qualified to a preset level (level 3 is what we are doing at the moment) and companies with third-party certification. If we can get that done, our industry will take a leap forward in a way of fire safety for individuals and privates.

To convince the government to take this to the next step forward we need to push and lobby. We are trying to put statistics behind it. It is very good to say that third-party certified companies are better. But how do we know? We are currently going through processes of actually looking at our member companies, as we know they are all third-party certified otherwise they can't be a member, and how they operate differently to companies that are not third party certified. Are they getting fewer false alarms? Are they getting less complaints about the quality of their design work? Have their been incidents?

The people that are involved in these incidents where there are fires and things that happen, we need to find out about the circumstances. Sometimes things happen and it is just the perfect storm. For instance, we all know about the cladding at Grenfell, and sometimes things happen as maybe you don't know about it, or hadn't thought about it.

All you can do is your best endeavours and try and stop it happening again. Nothing is 100% and sometimes things do happen again. But if we do everything we possibly can then we stand a better chance.

Ian Moore is managing director of the Fire Industry Association. For more information, visit www.fia.uk.com Tel:0203 1665002