Competence evaluation is against the URS Persons Scheme requirements (making reference to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.
Fire safety legislation requires that, for most non-domestic premises, a fire risk assessment is carried out to determine the risks to people from fire. The legislation also requires that suitable measures are taken to ensure the safety of people from fire. The appropriate fire precautions are determined by the fire risk assessment.
There is no legislative requirement for the fire risk assessment to be carried out by a certificated competent person. However, there is an expectation under the law that such an assessment should indeed be performed by someone that is competent. Every Duty Holder under the legislation needs to seriously consider the merits of employing the services of a fire safety specialist, such as a consultant, to carry out their fire risk assessment.
For small, simple premises, it is often the duty holder that carries out the fire risk assessment. Arguably, in these premises, the duty holder is the best person to do so because of their intimate knowledge of the premises and the activities therein. However, for many premises, the duty holder seeks the services of an external consultant (‘a fire risk assessor’). In the case of larger, more complex or high risk premises, this is often appropriate, as the task might well be beyond the ability of the duty holder.
In the light of experience, including the emergence of inadequate fire risk assessments for premises that suffered multiple fatality fires, there has been growing concern regarding the competence of those who provide fire risk assessment services to duty holders on a commercial basis (i.e. for a fee).
As a result of these concerns, the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council emerged from the fire sector with the encouragement of Government. The raison d’être of the Council, which comprises a broad group of relevant stakeholders, is to establish criteria against which the competence of a fire risk assessor can be judged. It is the relevant criteria from such deliberations stated above, that is used by professional bodies and third party certification bodies that register or certificated fire risk assessors and commercial companies that provide fire risk assessment services.
While it is very unlikely that third party certification of this nature will become mandatory under legislation, Government acknowledges the benefits to duty holders of third party certification of fire protection products and services as a means of assisting in compliance with legislation. It is now recognized that this includes fire risk assessment services.
The scheme offered by The Register of Skilled Persons will be a competent persons’ certification scheme, complying with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17024:2003
URS Persons will operate the certification of competent persons. This scheme will assist building owners, insurers and the regulatory authorities who will either need to commission a fire risk assessment or rely upon its findings.
The FLAME scheme requires Fire Risk Assessors to observe the requirements of the URS Persons scheme and take due note of the following:
The resultant Fire Risk Assessment should enable a client to then act on the recommendation to ensure that they meet the requirements of the Fire Safety Order 2005 and in-turn, provide a potentially "fire-safe" environment within the acceptable standards of the country, or countries where the premises are located.
URS Persons would like to advise all uses of the FLAME scheme that URS Persons on-going evaluations of Fire Risk Assessors are performed on a sample basis and whilst ongoing monitoring does take place, URS Persons can’t guarantee that all approved Fire Risk Assessors (FRA) will perform their duties without failure 100% of the time.
As with other specialist professions, such as the legal profession, interpretation and resultant recommendations may vary from one FRA to another.
To ensure that FRAs to the FLAME scheme operate as consistently as possible and provide recommendations that respect a client’s needs, whilst working within the regulatory framework, URS Persons requires that FRAs do not deliberately ’over specify’ remedial solutions.
Should a client of the FRA feel that recommendations are not acceptable, they are invited to contact URS Persons in order that URS Persons can review the Fire Risk Assessment and take whatever action it may deem appropriate with the FRA.
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