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Industry support grows for BAFE’s ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify!’ campaign

29 November 2021

AS THE drive towards stronger responsibility and accountability for fire safety measures continues across the nation, BAFE is reiterating its message on the significance of United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)-accredited third party certification. The organisation’s ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify!’ campaign, launched back in March last year, identifies the important (but sometimes overlooked) second verification stage when premises management source competent third party certificated organisations to help on compliance with fire safety obligations.

The pioneering campaign has generated substantial industry support from significant organisations including UKAS, the Fire Sector Federation and the Construction Industry Council, not to mention the backing of multiple certification bodies, Trade Associations and professional bodies alike. BAFE firmly believes that this unified support is “testament to the quality message” the campaign ultimately represents.

Lewis Ramsay, caretaker Manager and Board member for BAFE, stated: “With most buildings now returning to near pre-COVID operation, it’s imperative that the BAFE campaign message is repeated in the interests of life safety. Over the last decade, BAFE has witnessed third party certification becoming a clear stipulation for fire safety work, but it would be far more reassuring to determine if premises management are also verifying this prior to awarding any contract and letting work commence at a given site.”

Ramsay added: “This verification process should be recorded to demonstrate full due diligence. It’s a very straightforward and quick exercise which can be extremely beneficial to evidencing own quality procedures when it comes to sourcing quality contractors for the fulfilment of specific works.”

Guidance documents

Discussed in multiple Government and Fire and Rescue Service guidance documents, third party certification is a method of determining if an organisation has quality evidence of their competency to fulfil specific work.

Government fire safety guidance documents note: “Third party quality assurance can offer comfort both as a means of satisfying you that goods and services you have purchased are fit for purpose, and as a means of demonstrating that you have complied with the law.”

Importantly, the Government guidance also notes the use of sub-contractors, urging fire safety professionals to ascertain if they “are subject to the same level of checks of quality and competence as the company you are employing.” There is now a huge amount of responsibility placed on the shoulders of premises management (and their designated ‘Responsible Persons’/duty holders) which needs to be thoroughly executed.

BAFE believes the verification of fire safety organisations is of vital importance in today’s landscape. Most notably in terms of specific competency within the life safety arena.

Graham Watts OBE, CEO of the Construction Industry Council, commented: “We support BAFE’s ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify!’ campaign. When it comes to the built environment, competency matters. UKAS-accredited third party certification is an important factor when evaluating a contractor’s competency. Moving forward, there’s a strong requirement for consistent competence in delivering safety-related works.”

Premises management

While the BAFE schemes are available for third party certification of contractors operating in the fire safety sector, it’s important to stress that this message applies to all appropriate UKAS-accredited third party certification schemes available to the fire safety industry.

Premises management should always be looking for appropriate third party certification. Should they require specific services that BAFE schemes don’t cover at present, it’s still strongly advised for them to check if their chosen provider is suitably third party certificated via another organisation.

*Organisations can offer their support to the ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify!’ campaign by visiting the BAFE website: https://www.bafe.org.uk/dont-just-specify-verify-show-your-support

**Further information on BAFE’s ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify!#’ campaign is available online at https://www.bafe.org.uk/bafe-fire-safety-guidance/don’t-just-specify-verify-third-party-certification

***BAFE’s ‘Don’t Just Specify, Verify!’ campaign is supported by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, the Fire Sector Federation, the Construction Industry Council, the Fire Protection Association, the RISCAuthority, the Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association, the Electrical Contractors' Association, the Institute of Fire Safety Managers and the following UKAS-accredited certification bodies: Alcumus ISOQAR, Independent European Certification, the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board, SOCOTEC Certification UK, the British Standards Institution, the Building Research Establishment, NAPIT, the NICEIC and the National Security Inspectorate