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Government responds to FIA and BSIA concerns over new UKCA mark

07 January 2021

THE GOVERNMENT has now responded to the second communication penned by the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) in which the Trade Associations relay their respective industries’ concerns around the negative impact they believe will be exerted by the implementation of the new UKCA mark.

The Trade Associations sent their second letter (jointly authored and signed by FIA CEO Ian Moore and Mike Reddington, his counterpart at the BSIA) to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Tuesday 24 November. In late December, a response was received from Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In their own joint letter, the FIA and the BSIA requested that should a reciprocal agreement not be acceptable, the specified 12 months’ timeline be extended to a minimum of 36 months to allow sufficient time for manufacturers to prepare for and apply the UKCA mark. Unfortunately, the Government has ignored this request on two separate occasions.

The Trade Associations have commented: “We believe exceptions should be made for fire and security products given that exceptions have been granted for medical devices. All are focused on life safety. The resulting impacts that the UKCA regime can and will have on life safety systems are worrying. For instance, lack of spare parts to maintain current fire safety systems correctly could affect thousands of hospitals, schools and care homes to name but a few.”

For its part, the Government has stressed: “We cannot indefinitely accept European Union certification and CE-marked goods on the market in Great Britain on a non-reciprocal basis beyond the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020” and accepts that “transitioning to the new UK regime will require planning and will result in some costs to businesses”.

Potentially damaging

The FIA believes that these costs will be extensive and potentially damaging for a number of businesses, while at the same time suggesting the practicality of transitioning to the UKCA regime for all fire safety products within the given 12-month period is unachievable.

In addition, the FIA has stated: “We see no reason that UK conformity assessment bodies cannot start conformity assessment procedures for the UK market before the end of the Transition Period in their current capacity as notified bodies and conclude it once they have become a UK approved body”.

The Trade Association has also commented: “The UK has proposed a comprehensive Mutual Recognition Agreement for the acceptance of results of conformity assessment across sectors” although “this is, of course, still subject to ongoing negotiations”.

Both the FIA and the BSIA have asserted that they’ll be working closely with businesses over the coming year to ensure guidance is clear and that businesses feel supported in transitioning to the new domestic arrangements.

Through what it describes as an “unprecedented period” the FIA will continue to represent the needs of the industry to Government. “It’s imperative the Government understands the impact that changing to the UKCA regime will have not only for businesses from the fire industry whose task it is to keep buildings and their occupants safe, but also for the thousands of business owners reliant on their buildings being compliant so that they can remain open.”

*Read the letter sent by the Government to the Trade Associations here