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Manufacturers' viewpoint

15 February 2017

Manufacturers' viewpoint... Fire Industry Association managing director Ian Moore introduces two key initiatives that are helping to drive efficiencies and growth for manufacturers in the UK and overseas.

BREXIT HAS focused our thoughts at the Fire Industry Association (FIA) even more on the importance exporting outside of the European Union.  There has been a little bit of ease of sliding into Europe as an EN54 type environment, but we all know there’s still some struggles to come with that. In January, we flew out to Dubai, a place where there’s general acceptance of British quality what has really kick started this is a recent gathering of minds between Department of International Trade, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and FIA. 

We’ve been looking for a coherent UK fire offering to go overseas and it was decided that the UAE was considered the best place to explore this further. We first visited Dubai in 2016, and signed a memorandum of understanding between CFOA, the Dubai Civil Defence and FIA. There’s a general understanding that agreements like this have happened before but have led to nothing. But the difference this time is that the UK fire industry is directly behind it. Between CFOA and the Dubai Civil Defence there is a general respect from uniform and this has proved key. CFOA has represent the UK fire and rescue service and it’s fair to say the Dubai Civil Defence wouldn’t welcome FIA into these meetings if they also didn’t respect our organization.

We have earned that respect as Dubai recognises that we demand third party approval before any company can become a member of the FIA. It makes civil defence department very comfortable with working with us. Coming with very professional offering with over 700 members we have a bit of everything inside our membership and these companies can help guide Dubai in the way they are going in terms of civil defense. 

That being said, we can also learn a lot from Dubai and this is very much a mutual arrangement. There are several very professional things in Dubai that we can learn from. You only have to visit Dubai to see the amount of tall buildings that have been constructed and that takes a lot of expertise. The UK can learn by what they’ve gone through and some of the issues they’ve had in Dubai, which was highlighted quite recently with the fire at the Address Hotel. There are issues and problems with the construction of tall buildings that are real for them and we can all learn from these. The relationship is mutually beneficial in my view, but what we need to do is talk about how we can exploit opportunities to export British quality from British companies into the UAE. 

Public and private sector collaboration

We are delighted to be part of another joint venture between fire and rescue service, represented by CFOA, the Fire Service College. FIA has industry members with equipment that’s needed by the fire and rescue service to carry out their vital work and CFOA has the means of testing this equipment. Prior to this initiative, 52 fire and rescue services were all looking at what equipment, such as ladders, is best to use and they had their own designs and thoughts. So instead of them all going to one place for information and working together, the fire and rescue services were doing all of this independently. Under this new partnership five or ten different fire and rescue services, under the banner of CFOA, are invited down to the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire to inspect and test a range of new products and innovations on site. They can then directly discuss with the manufacturers, who are FIA members, how the products can be adapted or changed to better suit their need. Manufacturers win through this initiative as they only have to visit one place to get this feedback and their products can be demonstrated then and there, rather than having to visit multiple different fire and rescue services and repeat the same conversations and tests. The fire and rescue service also win as they now allocate less resource in terms of manpower to be able to have direct input into how the products they use are designed.

We were very lucky that Theresa May, in one of her last speeches as home secretary, praised this partnership as win-win for private and public sectors in terms of efficiency purposes. These are the kinds of projects the FIA is delighted to be involved in and our credibility is enhanced not only by our rapidly growing membership, but also by the multiple projects we are working on with governments, associations and fire and rescue services at home and abroad.  

Ian Moore is managing director of the Fire Industry Association

For more information on how to join the FIA, visit www.fia.uk.com