SSAIB News

FESS Introduces New SSAIB-Supported Occupational Qualification Structure

FESS Introduces New SSAIB-Supported Occupational Qualification Structure

The Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry has introduced a new Occupational Qualification Structure leading to Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) Card recognition, aimed at promoting high standards and skills.

The new structure has been developed by an industry-wide working group formed by leading trade associations and employer representatives including SSAIB, British Security Industry Association (BSIA), FESS Employer Group, Fire Industry Association (FIA), Fire & Security Association (FSA), SELECT and Joint Industry Board (JIB).

Uniquely recognising the introduction of the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) Trailblazer, the new structure sets the standard for new entrants to the market at Level 3, whilst also addressing the need to recognise the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce.

This new pathway recognises the differences in training, experience and qualifications for those already in the industry, which critically identifies a minimum standard for those who install and maintain fire, emergency and security systems.

Everything you need to know about the FESS Apprenticeship Standard

Jay Parmar, Chief Executive of the JIB says: “I’m delighted to have worked alongside the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry who collectively represent over 3,000 companies with over 80,000 employees who will benefit from the introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure and the new suite of ECS cards which recognise the skills of the entire FESS workforce. A key strength of ECS and its partnership with CSCS is that it provides assurance that cardholders working across sites in the UK have a high level of skills and experience”

There are now four sector disciplines recognised by the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) in the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry, which include

• Fire
• Fire and Emergency Lighting
• Security (Including Access Control, Intruder and CCTV systems)
• Fire and Security

Each sector recognises three disciplines which include Systems Operative, Systems Technician and Technical Manager. In addition, the occupations of Labourer, Trainee and Apprentice are recognised by ECS.

These FESS ECS occupations replace the existing Fire Detection & Alarm Systems and the Emergency & Security Systems cards. From 1 January 2021 the FESS requirements will become compulsory for all new (initial) card applications, meaning that all new applicants will be required to hold a pathway specific FESS assessment for the ECS occupation being applied for. From 1 July 2021 all card renewals will also need to meet the FESS requirements and hold a pathway specific FESS assessment.

Jay concludes: “This historical change has been introduced as a result of the desire by the FESS industry to professionalise and enhance standards in the sector. This key development ensures all ECS cards will be issued against an industry recognised qualification standard by the end of 2020 in keeping with the target set by the Construction Leadership Council. We look forward to building on this positive development and continuing to work with the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry in helping them to meet their aspirations, whilst at the same time upskilling the industry in which they operate.”

Pat Allen, chair of the FESS Employer Group, said: “The Employer Group welcomes the introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure which will recognise and promote an increased level of professionalism in the industry. The Structure, together with the new suite of ECS cards which are linked to clear occupational requirements, recognise both the Level 3 apprenticeship requirements for new entrants to the market as well as the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce. This is clearly a positive development and one which will benefit the entire industry going forward.”

Fiona Harper, Director of Employment and Skills at SELECT - the trade association for the electrotechnical industry in Scotland - said: “This new development is a significant step forward as it recognises existing professionalism and also blends upskilling and training with formal and structured assessment. SELECT particularly welcomes its introduction as it dovetails perfectly with our own ongoing contribution towards modernisation of the ECS in Scotland. Ensuring the FESS workforce of tomorrow has the correct qualifications with meaningful assessments also reinforces the importance of our campaign for protection of title, to ensure only properly qualified individuals build an electric future for us all.”

Posted: 12/08/2020 more >

Alex Carmichael: SSAIB Adapting to Ever-Changing COVID-19 Coronavirus Situation

Alex Carmichael: SSAIB Adapting to Ever-Changing COVID-19 Coronavirus Situation

Over the past few months, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have conducted our audits remotely. This was done with the agreement with our main stakeholders – e.g. the Police, among others – and with the cooperation of you, our registered firms.  It has been a challenging time for us all and it is not over yet, so we thank you for all your support and flexibility during these uncertain times.

As Government begins lifting its restrictions on social mobility, we too are amending our auditing procedure to enable site audits to take place where it is safe and practical to do so. We still intend to carry out - with the agreement of our main stakeholders - remote audits, with site visits to your customers’ sites to verify the systems and services you deploy are in compliance with relevant standards, i.e. those applicable to your scope of registration with SSAIB.

SSAIB Bulletin 1108 - dated July 20, 2020 - describes how, and in what circumstances, onsite audits will be conducted. Our auditors will be in contact with you prior to an audit to confirm timings and ensure that COVID-19 secure arrangements are in place – both at the premises of the registered firm and, if applicable, at any customer sites that the auditor may wish to visit. This ensures the safety of our auditor, our registered firms’ staff and the staff of their customers as well.

SSAIB’s head office functions are continuing on a remote basis - as all staff are working from home. We are currently working to make our head office COVID-19 secure and expect that the head office will become partially operational in early September, but full services will continue as normal during this transition period.

Our aim is to ensure continuity of service to existing registered firms and to provide an opportunity for organisations seeking to gain certification for the first time. By continuing to offer certification services throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have fully supported the fire and security industry which provides essential services to the whole of the country.

All the changes we are putting in place currently will – of course – depend on the coronavirus situation, which is changing daily. Local lock downs are occurring and there is discussion of a “second wave.”

SSAIB is adapting to these situations and will adjust our services and operation to meet this ever-changing situation. We expect the current situation to continue until such time that an effective vaccine against the coronavirus is developed and a vaccination programme has been completed.

Once again, I can only thank you for your understanding and continued cooperation during this time.

Alex Carmichael
SSAIB
Chief Executive

Posted: 31/07/2020 more >

SSAIB Pass on BT Update on BT Consumer All IP Programme

SSAIB Pass on BT Update on BT Consumer All IP Programme



SSAIB has been asked to forward this correspondence onto our registered firms by BT, regarding their ongoing all IP transformation.


Overview of BT’s all IP programme – Why are we doing this?

At BT Consumer we’re making some changes to the way we provide phone services. In line with all UK Communications Providers we’re upgrading our customers from the existing analogue phone service to an enhanced IP service.

For our customers the key change is that in most cases their telephone service will run over broadband. Phones will connect to the broadband router instead of being plugged into a phone socket on the wall. We aim to have all of our customers using fully digital phone services by the end of 2025 to coincide with the withdrawal of the PSTN service by Openreach.

We’re making these changes because the PSTN system is dated and it’s difficult to maintain. But equally, we’re all communicating differently too. VoIP, SKYPE, WhatsApp and more lately the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being increasingly used to communicate. These new apps offer converged telephony, better quality, HD Voice and many other additional features. And as we look ahead to the “Internet of Things” this will help bring a seamless integration between devices and networks.

What does this mean to you?

While moving to an all IP network promises exciting new communications services, some existing Special Services equipment connected to the old PSTN network may no longer work, including:

- Security alarms

- Fire alarms

- Personal (telecare pendant) alarms

Voice over the new IP network works very differently to the existing analogue network. If you’re a Special Services equipment manufacturer, service supplier, or alarm receiving centre any equipment or services that currently use the PSTN or ISDN networks need to be checked for compatibility.

We’ve been talking to key industry bodies, manufacturers and service providers for over two years now. We’ve emphasised the need to make sure that their customers know their security, fire, and personal alarms needs to be compatible when they switch to a Digital Voice service. BT Consumer’s Digital Voice product was launched in January 2020, so customers can potentially start switching to the digital network today.

We’ve welcomed many Special Services providers, equipment manufacturers to our test labs at Adastral Park. They’ve tested their equipment on the new all IP network and via BT’s interim analogue telephony adapter (ATA) built into our market leading Home Hubs. You can see who has tested their equipment at the lab and check with them to see if their equipment is compatible on this website.

Our lab is currently closed due to Covid19 safe working practices. We’re looking to reopen the lab as soon as it is safe to do so, but this is unlikely to be before September 2020. However you can still contact us if you have any technical queries or to discuss any further testing you think may be necessary. Just drop us an email.

Special Services users will soon be included in migrations

BT Consumer continues to exclude Special Services users from ordering the new Digital Voice product. There’s no technical barrier for these users, we’re doing this while we make sure robust processes are in place and to give Special Services provider’s time to get ready.

But, because this is an ambitious programme where everyone will need to move to all IP communications by the end of 2025, BT Consumer will soon allow Special Services users to take Digital Voice. So it’s really important that customers are ready for the change and that their equipment is either upgraded or adapted to work on an all IP network.

We’ll let you know when the exclusion is lifted as its likely service providers will start getting contacted by customers on the back of it.

Openreach WLR withdrawal update

Openreach is running trials in the Salisbury and Mildenhall exchange areas. The trials will enable Openreach and Communication Providers to test the best approach for migrating end customers and to understand the supporting processes needed.

In both trial areas Openreach will stop selling PSTN and ISDN lines in advance of the national date. In Salisbury this will be in December 2020, In Mildenhall it’s May 2021. Copper broadband and voice services will be withdrawn at the end of the trials in 2022.

As part of our engagement with Alarm and Telecare providers we’ll be asking them to help us identify operators with customers in the trial areas.  We’ll then be able to track the progress with these operators and customers and make sure there are no issues.

And Openreach have announced they will stop selling PSTN and ISDN products in a further 117 exchanges from June 2021. This will affect over 1.2 million customer premises and from that date you won’t be able to buy new analogue lines in these areas. Here’s a list of the exchanges.

Again as this date approaches and end customers start taking up all IP products, there may receive increased communication from service providers asking how they’ll be affected.

Support and future events

BT Consumer remains committed to supporting the Special Services industry. Our key aim is to ensure no customer is left without service during this change from analogue to digital.

We continue to engage with industry bodies in both the alarm and telecare industries, and whilst we are unable to personally attend any events (until September at least) we are keen to support virtual online events where practical. So if you need some support or would like us to get involved in an online event drop us an email.

And finally

Don’t forget, this is not a BT only programme and we’re working with the industry to create a consistent message. Special Services suppliers need to think about their strategy now to limit the impact of the all IP transition on their customers.

Here are some links to resources you may find useful:

Openreach trials site
Openreach exchanges with Stop Sell brought forward to June 2021
BT Consumer Digital Voice site
BT Consumer Who’s Tested page
Contact BT: btdigitalvoice@bt.com.

Posted: 24/07/2020 more >

SSAIB Embrace Technology Once More to Exhibit at Security TWENTY's Virtual Event

SSAIB Embrace Technology Once More to Exhibit at Security TWENTY's Virtual Event

Having seen our events schedule for 2020 decimated due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, SSAIB are back on the exhibition trail once again thanks to an innovative digital event organised by the team behind Professional Security Magazine.

The Security TWENTY20 Virtual Event – which is live now – perfectly encapsulates the travelling roadshows that Roy Cooper and his team usually take to all corners of the UK and Ireland. From the latest industry updates to top security industry speakers, the Security TWENTY20 events are aimed at end users, purchasers and those who specify security products.

Once lockdown had seen both ST20 Glasgow and ST20 Manchester re-arranged for the winter of 2020/21, the show’s organisers got in touch with PR & Communications Executive Glen Maxwell to discuss the leading UKAS-accredited certification body for the fire and security industries’ participation in this pioneering virtual event.

Glen commented: “Exhibitions and conferences, such as the Security TWENTY events, are usually a massive part of the make up of our sales and marketing portfolio every year – as we visit all areas of the UK and Ireland to catch up with our registered firms, discuss certification opportunities with potential new customers and all of the other added networking benefits that come from events like this that allow us to meet face-to-face with people.

“Obviously, due to the lockdown, it’s been nearly five months since we were last able to attend any sort of event in person. That’s why, when Liz [Lloyd, event manager] rang me and explained the concept to me, I was eager for SSAIB to get involved.

“We’ve massively embraced technology at SSAIB since the announcement of lockdown, with our audits and our working practices switching over to remote working and being a tremendous success - as it has allowed us to continue to provide certification and support to our registered firms through what has been a very testing time for everyone.

"Therefore, it made perfect sense for our attendance of events to follow suit as well and it’s great that the Professional Security team have developed this concept into an immersive online event experience.”

In addition to being able to visit SSAIB’s stand for the event, field operations manager David Roscoe is also one of the key speakers in the video theatre for the event – as he gives a standards update for the industry, in which he considers some of the upcoming changes that may be incorporated into any new standards expected in the near future.

Should you wish to attend this innovative digital exhibition, please pick up your virtual visitor’s pass at https://library.myebook.com/professionalsecurity/stve-2/2652/#page/1

Posted: 14/07/2020 more >

Influx of New SSAIB Firms During Coronavirus Pandemic Creates New Manned Services Assessor Vacancy

Influx of New SSAIB Firms During Coronavirus Pandemic Creates New Manned Services Assessor Vacancy

Owing to an increasing number of new SSAIB-registered firms who have applied during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the leading UKAS-accredited certification body for the security and fire industries have created a new opening within our auditing team.

This new full-time manned services assessor role will enable SSAIB to continue to certificate companies against the Security Industry Authority’s Approved Contractor Scheme across the UK and the Private Security Authority’s Licencing scheme in the Republic of Ireland - as well as a range of other product schemes relating to international and/or British Standards and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Code of Practice.

The role is ideal for any applicant that possess previous experience of working in the security industry at supervisory and/or management level and have a keen eye for detail, while some knowledge of the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme, British Standards Codes of Practice and ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 is also desirable.

Working from home with the opportunity to travel as well, the successful applicants will receive a salary commensurate with the role and a company car.

Full details for this role can be found in our Employment Opportunities section, while anyone looking to apply should forward their CV and a cover letter to Karen Rowley (karen@ssaib.co.uk.)

Posted: 09/07/2020 more >