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Case Study: How Astral Fire & Security obtained certification to BAFE SP205 Fire Risk Assessments

How Astral Fire & Security obtain certification to BAFE SP205 Fire Risk Assessments

The primary legislation for fire safety in England and Wales is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which came into force in 2006, and transferred responsibility for life safety to the “Responsible Person” in any organisation. In other words to the duty holder (owner) or person who had overall control of a premises. This placed ultimate responsibility for the safety of persons from fire on organisations who often had no experience or knowledge of the risks involved. The law requires that the Responsible Person is to undertake a Fire Risk Assessment to clarify the fire precautions necessary to ensure the safety of all persons in and around their premises. Furthermore this assessment has to be “suitable and sufficient”.

Not surprisingly most organisations commission specialist companies to carry out this Fire Risk Assessment. However up to this point there was no independently audited means to ensure the competence or reliability of any company commissioned to carry this out. Most importantly the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the adequacy of a Fire Risk Assessment remains with the duty holder or Responsible Person, rather than with the fire risk assessor.

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Given the lack of a recognised national independent scheme for ensuring the competence of fire risk assessors, and companies involved in providing this service, BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) designed a certification scheme for companies involved in providing fire risk assessments. As part of the process any company applying for certification has to prove the competency of individual fire risk assessors, based on nationally recognised competency criteria such as that as specified in Appendix A-1 of the Competency Criteria for Fire Risk Assessors, produced by the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council. This proof is a combination of qualifications, experience, personal qualities, observation and audits.

Following our application a BAFE auditor visited the company and carried out a three part audit covering firstly the management procedures, contained in our Quality Management System. This included training records of each assessor, competency assessments and working procedures based on the requirements of SP205. The second part of the process was a desk top audit of fire risk assessments carried out by each assessor to be certificated. The final part involved site visits to assess the validity of the fire risk assessments which had been audited in part two.

The closing discussion with the auditor identified some areas where Astral could improve the procedures and the company subsequently carried out some administrative changes to improve communications with future clients.

Subsequently Astral received confirmation from the SSAIB and BAFE that the company had been accepted onto the register of companies certificated to SP205. These companies are known as Certificated Organisations and are independently confirmed as competent to carry out Fire Risk Assessments.

This independently audited scheme gives confidence to the duty holder or Responsible Person that the company they employ will provide a “suitable and sufficient” fire risk assessment, as required under the law. Astral Fire & Security are proud to have achieved this standard, which will benefit both existing and future clients.

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