SSAIB News

BAFE launches FireQual Awarding Organisation

BAFE launches FireQual Awarding Organisation

Following last week’s news of BAFE’s acquisition of the Fire Industry Association’s Awarding Organisation (FIA AO), BAFE have announced further details on their new FireQual subsidiary venture.

BAFE – who announced the acquisition of the FIA AO by BAFE FireQual Ltd on August 20, 2020 – strongly believe this will be a significant opportunity for the fire industry to develop an exciting range of accredited qualifications to meet the demand for quality assurance of individual skill and expertise required by the industry. This necessity was heightened by the Grenfell tragedy and its subsequent reports outlined by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Competency Steering Group.

Dame Judith Hackitt stated: “The lack of a coherent approach to competence levels and experience required – or professional qualifications where these may be necessary – and how these qualifications and experience should be evidenced so that they are clearly understood by all those operating within the system.” - 5.2 Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report.

FireQual will operate as a separate wholly owned subsidiary of BAFE - with its own board of directors – and will be led by a newly appointed qualifications manager, who has a wide experience at a senior level in the qualifications sector. The FireQual Board currently is made up of chairman Lewis Ramsay - former deputy chief fire officer of Scottish Fire & Rescue – Pauline Traetto, a previous executive director of BRE Academy, BAFE chairman Douglas Barnett and BAFE chief executive Stephen Adams.

For full clarity, FireQual will only offer exams and qualifications – neither BAFE nor FireQual will be delivering any training. FireQual will be working with licensed training organisations – including the FIA – who will offer the approved syllabuses to their learners.

BAFE consider this separation from training and exams/invigilation – as currently operated at BAFE with the BS 5306 fire extinguisher exam – is important to deliver independent quality assurance of this process.

Stephen Adams commented: “There are natural synergies that will occur along with the BAFE ethos of third-party certification for companies delivered through licensed [UKAS-accredited] certification bodies. We believe that the introduction of accredited qualifications will only enhance the BAFE company schemes.

“These are not to be thought of as one or the other, however, BAFE will continue to monitor company assurance of specific service competency which holds important value. FireQual will develop qualifications for individual expertise for specific services, whether the candidate works for a BAFE-registered company or not.”

Following the acquisition, the FIA AO will continue to deliver their exams until FireQual has established the necessary systems and delivery processes. FireQual aim to make this transition as quickly as possible, with all the requirements for OFQUAL and the equivalent standards in Scotland and Wales under way.

FireQual will take the opportunity to contact a wide range of organisations that currently deliver training across all aspects of fire safety to consider the application of the new range of qualifications that we will be reviewing. FireQual welcomes any approaches to consider how this should develop and looks forward to collaborating with the industry to progress the future of individual qualifications for the fire safety industry.

For further information on FireQual, please visit www.firequal.com.

Posted: 27/08/2020 more >

Lynn Watts-Plumpkin Returns as SSAIB Manned Services Scheme Manager

Lynn Watts-Plumpkin Returns as SSAIB Manned Services Scheme Manager

SSAIB are delighted to welcome back Lynn Watts-Plumpkin as manned services scheme manager – after predecessor Dougie Callander moved onto pastures new.

Lynn first arrived at SSAIB as an auditor back in 2003 and worked her way up to manned services scheme manager, before making the decision to leave the leading UKAS-accredited certification body for the fire and security industries in 2013.

However, when she heard of the opportunity to make a return to the organisation, Lynn had no hesitations about coming back.

Lynn – who also chairs the GW/3 Lead committee for the manned services standards, which includes British Standard BS:102000 Investigative Services standard – revealed: “I loved my role at SSAIB, but felt that I needed to broaden my horizons and gain experience with other certification bodies. I still kept in touch with my ex-SSAIB colleagues and, when I heard my old role was available, I jumped at the chance.

“I feel now that I have come back home and I’m really enjoying the challenge.”

That challenge has, of course, included helping the most widely recognised technical inspectorate navigate through the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Although, Lynn is adamant that it was “crucial” that SSAIB worked hard to continue providing certification throughout lockdown.

Lynn commented: “The firms wanted the assessments to continue and we delivered.

“The assessment process - through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, DropBox, OneDrive and SharePoint etc –  has been excellent.  I conducted one assessment and managed to speak to 12 frontline staff through a laptop, ensuring social distancing and Government guidelines were all met.

The frontline staff seemed more relaxed than when we first meet them face-to-face on site - as they are mostly used to technology and it worked really well.  Although, I actually prefer to conduct the face-to-face site visits, so we can converse with the frontline staff and they can show us what their job entails.”

With regards to how the manned services team has adapted to remote auditing during lockdown, Lynn added: “I have to say that it has been a useful experiment conducting remote assessments and something that could be continued.

“We have used technology and have ensured that the level of the audits have not been compromised”.  “I have had good feedback from the firms who say they have enjoyed the process”.

“I see that this will be built into the assessment process going forward and we will continue to conduct blended assessments e.g. both remotely and on-site and I hope this is the ‘new norm’.”

Following a few personnel changes during 2020 for the manned services team – including the appointment of manned services administrator Colm McCoy back in April – Lynn’s appointment will see her spearhead a new manned services team going forward. However, SSAIB’s latest acquisition is confidently backing her fellow new starters to hit the ground running.

Lynn explained: “Yes, some of the old team have left to pursue other interests.  The new team are all settling in well, which includes our administrator, who is doing a sterling job.

“A new deputy scheme manager has also been employed, who has vast security experience - as well as a solid background in assessing the SIA Approved Contractors Scheme, ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems and product standards, so is a huge asset to the team.

“Our new assessor, again, has a good solid background in the security industry and will bring a fresh pair of eyes to the assessment process.”

As part of Lynn’s reintroduction to SSAIB, the new scheme manager will also be the focus of the next SSAIB Spotlight feature in the September issue of Professional Security magazine.

SSAIB would like to thank outgoing scheme manager Dougie Callander and assessor Lisa Nazareth for their contributions towards SSAIB and we would like to wish them both well with their future endeavours.

Posted: 21/08/2020 more >

SSAIB Produce Bulletin 1110 Following Publication of BS EN 50131-1:2006+A3:2020

SSAIB Produce Bulletin 1110 Following Publication of BS EN 50131-1:2006+A3:2020

SSAIB have produced a new bulletin to highlight the new additions to BS EN 50131-1:2006, following the recent publication of amendment 3:2020.

SSAIB-registered installers can view bulletin 1110 – authored by Security Systems scheme manager Frank Smith – by logging into their Registered Firms portal of the SSAIB website, and opening the Bulletins page with the Member’s Benefits section of the main menu.

Posted: 14/08/2020 more >

SSAIB System Updates to Take Place on Sunday August 16

Further improvements are scheduled to be made to SSAIB's IT infrastructure this weekend, meaning that some aspects of our online profile will be unavailable for a few hours.

The planned upgrades to our databases will unfortunately mean that SSAIB’s installer portal, SSAIB website and company search feature will be unavailable for a few hours this Sunday, August 16. Work will begin at 2pm and is expected to be completed by 8pm.

We apologise in advance for any inconvenience that these system improvements may cause.

Posted: 14/08/2020 more >

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 >