NSI awards first Gold certification for BAFE’s Evacuation Alert Systems Scheme to Solid State Security Ltd
23 December 2020
THE NATIONAL Security Inspectorate (NSI) is pleased to announce that Solid State Security Ltd is the first company in the UK to become third party certificated for the Design, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of Evacuation Alert Systems and be awarded the prestigious NSI Gold mark of approval for this new BAFE SP207 Scheme.
Having selected the NSI as its preferred certification body, the Solid State Security Ltd team was able to demonstrate to the NSI’s auditors a comprehensive understanding of the BAFE SP207 Scheme, with the required level of competence being verified through witnessed inspection.
Developed in response to the revision of the Technical Domestic Handbook in Scotland and a recommendation from the Grenfell Tower Phase 1 Inquiry report, BAFE’s Evacuation Alert Systems Scheme, itself launched in October this year, directly responds to the need for blocks of flats over 18 metres in height (and where a ‘Stay Put’ policy is in place) to be provided with the means for the Fire and Rescue Services to initiate an evacuation alert signal within flats in a controlled and managed way.
Evacuation alert systems are for the sole use of Fire and Rescue Services in managing the evacuation of occupants from parts or all of a block of flats. They save time in raising the alert and enable the Fire and Rescue Services to prioritise the evacuation of critical areas (eg particular floors of, or wings within, a given building). They don’t detect fire or take the place of fire alarms. Rather, they’re an additional layer of safety designed to support the evacuation of those persons most at risk.
Observing Best Practice
Together with other industry-leading bodies, the NSI was involved in the development of BAFE Scheme SP207 from the outset. SP207 observes Best Practice as defined in the British Standard BS 8629 Code of Practice for the Design, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of Evacuation Alert Systems for Use by the Fire and Rescue Services in Buildings Containing Flats.
Given that the SP207 Scheme is modular, companies can gain certification for one or more of the services they provide (ie design, installation, commissioning and/or maintenance). However, if a company provides all four services, then it must demonstrate competence in – and hold approval for – all four modules. It cannot pick and choose the modules for which it would wish approval.
This new addition to the NSI’s fire safety certification offer complements the extensive portfolio of BAFE Schemes available to professional fire safety providers which includes fire detection and alarm systems, emergency lighting, gaseous suppression systems, kitchen fire protection systems and life safety fire risk assessments. As is the case with all NSI certification schemes, NSI Gold approval is only available to those companies operating a Quality Management System in accordance with BS EN ISO 9001.
Similar to an ‘MOT’, companies approved to register against the SP207 Scheme issue an NSI/BAFE ‘Certificate of Compliance’ for every newly-installed system and also on completion of scheduled maintenance (every six months). This certificate, which is held by building operators, demonstrates to enforcing authorities, insurers and building occupants alike that systems are adequately installed and maintained.
James Foster, managing director of Solid State Security Ltd, commented: “We’re excited to be the first company in the UK to gain third party certification to BAFE SP207. It shows our commitment to quality, our customers and delivering better systems to safeguard residents’ safety.”
Foster continued: “Having lived for many years on the tenth floor of an apartment block where there was a strict ‘defend in place’ strategy in operation, I would personally feel much safer if I had a BS 8629-compliant system installed where I was living, knowing full well that I would have quicker communication channels to evacuate should the need arise.”
In addition, Foster stated: “This new BAFE Scheme goes a long way towards indicating to buyers, consultants and fire engineers that SP207-approved companies have the technical design and engineering skills necessary to provide the best evacuation alert systems on the market. We’re audited on every element of our works against the BAFE SP207 Scheme and BS 8629 from design, installation and commissioning through to verification and maintenance. This means that all stakeholders receive the system they’re expecting and residents can rest assured that, in the event of a real fire, they can be evacuated quickly and reliably.”
In conclusion, Foster told Fire Safety Matters: “The application process is thorough, in turn ensuring that top quality companies and directors become approved. I commend the NSI for offering this certification route so soon. We’re proud to be approved and look forward to enhancing standards of fire safety across high-rise residential buildings.”
Richard Jenkins, CEO at the NSI, responded: “We’re delighted to be awarding this landmark certification to Solid State Security Ltd, verifying the company’s competence in delivering well-designed, installed, commissioned and maintained evacuation alert systems that will help safeguard flat residents and firefighters and, crucially, help to prevent the loss of lives. We congratulate James Foster and his team on this achievement.”
Stephen Adams, BAFE’s CEO, observed: “BAFE is delighted to see the first UKAS-accredited third party certification for the new SP207 Scheme being awarded to Solid State Security Ltd. We offer our congratulations to the company for its achievement and will welcome the business to the BAFE Fire Safety Register as the first organisation to gain certification for the Evacuation Alert Systems Scheme.”
Adams went on to state: “We believe this is an important Scheme to determine quality evidence of competency for working on evacuation systems in the interests of life safety in high-rise and other high-risk buildings. When in full working and efficient order, these systems can assist the Fire and Rescue Services to evacuate a building as safely as possible.”