FPA competency pillars

The term competency can have a different meaning for different roles. In this instance, we are referring specifically to the role of the fire risk assessor. At the FPA, we believe competency is something that is constantly evolving - a fire risk assessor may be extremely competent to carry out work on one type of building, such as a care home, but may not be the right person for the job for another type of high-risk premises, such as a manufacturing building. Part of being a responsible, competent fire risk assessor means knowing where the limits are of your own competence.

At the FPA, we talk about competency around six key pillars. These are:

1. Being third party approved – this means they are on a register of approved fire risk assessors who are independently verified via a UKAS accredited scheme. Read more about what third party accreditation means here

2. Trustworthy – the responsibility of a fire risk assessor is high. They must be trusted to do the right thing by the business or building, the people within it and the law.

3. Self aware – knowing the limits of your competency means knowing when to turn a job down because you don’t yet have the relevant experience or skillset.

4. Good knowledge and application it’s very important that you ensure your knowledge has come from reputable sources, whether this is from training, online research or other risk assessors. Always ensure your knowledge is from a valid source - you must then be able to apply this knowledge appropriately to the situation,  the building and your client.

5. Demonstrable experience – when undertaking work in high risk environments such as schools, care homes, hospitals or warehouses, it is important that you can demonstrate your experience in such areas. If you have not already worked in a specified area, asking to shadow an experienced risk assessor could help you to upskill.  

6. Committed to, and actively engaged in, continued professional development (CPD) – the road to competency is a long one. Legislation, buildings, businesses and their use are changing constantly. Sourcing ways to stay up to date on current issues, trends and legal requirements is an essential part of competency. You can do this by reading reputable industry journals, attending CPD approved events and training, and seeking guidance from those more experienced than you.

Further information on each of these elements can be found in the recently published Approved Code of Practice (ACoP), A National Framework for Fire Risk Assessor Competency. The ACoP, published by the Fire Sector Federation, is the result of work by the Fire Risk Assessors Working Group. This is one of several groups established by the Competency Steering Group (CSG), which had itself been established by the Industry Response Group (IRG) formed immediately after the Grenfell fire.

The FPA's Know Your Building campaign is seeking to raise awareness of the need for third party approval for fire risk assessors. 

Looking for an approved fire safety training course? Take a look at our Level 3 Certificate in Fire Risk Assessment. The best route for you to begin your journey as a competent fire risk assessor.