BAFE Don't just specify, verify! campaign

BAFE continue to stress the importance of verifying appropriate UKAS accredited third-party certification with growing industry support in a relaunched awareness campaign. 

As the nation moves towards stronger responsibility and accountability for fire safety measures, the BAFE Fire Safety Register reiterate their message on the significance of UKAS accredited third-party certification. BAFE’s “Don’t Just Specify, Verify” campaign identifies the important second, and sometimes overlooked, verification stage when premises management source competent third-party certificated organisations to help comply with their fire safety obligations.

The campaign has generated substantial industry support from significant organisations including United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), Fire Sector Federation (FSF), Construction Industry Council (CIC), and the FPA, with the addition of multiple certification bodies, trade associations, and professional bodies. This unified support is testament to the quality message the campaign represents.

Lewis Ramsay, caretaker manager and board member for BAFE, points out “with most buildings now returning to near pre-covid operation, it is imperative this message is repeated in the interest of life safety. Over the last decade, BAFE have 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 on-site. This verification process should be recorded to demonstrate full due diligence. This is a very straightforward and quick exercise which can be extremely beneficial to evidencing your own quality procedures in sourcing quality contractors to fulfil specific works.”

Discussed in multiple government and fire and rescue 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, this also notes the use of sub-contractors, stating to check if they “are subject to the same level of checks of quality and competence as the company you are employing.” There is a huge amount of responsibility on the shoulders of premises management (and their designated Responsible Persons/Duty Holders) which needs to be thoroughly executed.

The BAFE Fire Safety Register believe the verification of fire safety organisations is of vital importance in today’s landscape regarding specific competency within the life safety arena. While BAFE schemes are available for third-party certification of contractors operating in the fire safety sector, it is important to stress this message applies to all appropriate UKAS accredited third-party certification schemes that are available to the fire safety industry. Premises management should always be looking for appropriate third-party certification and in the instance that you require specific services that BAFE schemes do not cover, it is still strongly advised to check if your chosen provider is suitably third-party certificated via another organisation.

Jonathan O'Neill OBE, managing director of the FPA, added: 

"To me third party certification is the easiest and simplest way for a specifier or end user to have the assurance they require that the chosen supplier is fit for purpose or competent, and that the system and the system design is risk appropriate. It provides assurance that the equipment that makes up the kit of parts has been tested to the appropriate standards, and checked in the factory and the field to ensure that what is being made and sold is the same specification as the samples sent for testing. By using third party accredited, competent contractors and products, businesses can ensure they are working within industry best practice and minimise the risks from fire.

"The mandatory use of third party accredited products and services for fire protection should be a given; a complete no brainer. In its absence, and in the interests of life and building safety, the FPA fully supports BAFE’s Don’t Just Specify, Verify campaign. Those responsible for fire safety must take the necessary actions to minimise risk, which includes verifying service providers are appropriately certificated."

Organisations can offer their support to the BAFE Don’t Just Specify, Verify campaign by visiting their website here