Who looks after your fire alarm system?

Fire detection and alarm systems are installed in residential and commercial buildings primarily in the interest of life safety. They are designed to provide an early warning of a fire to enable
occupants of the building to escape in a calm and safe manner. 
 
As a life safety system, it is important that your fire alarm system is appropriate for your building, being designed, installed, commissioned and maintained regularly by a suitably qualified and competent company. 
 
How do you know who is suitably qualified and competent to work on my fire detection and alarm system?
 
Third Party Certification (achieved in the specific work you require) is the best assurance of quality when looking for a provider to help meet your fire safety requirements. This provides a clear method of determining a company’s competency to deliver a specific service. The BAFE Fire Safety Register has developed a third party certification scheme called BAFE SP203-1 which covers fire detection and fire alarm system work.
 
What is BAFE and what does BAFE SP203-1 mean? 
BAFE is the independent register of quality fire safety service providers. These registered providers are third party certificated to confirm their quality and competence to help meet your fire
safety obligations. 
 
The BAFE SP203-1 third party certification scheme was developed to ensure a quality level of competency, working to appropriate standards and best practice, with fire detection and fire alarm systems. The scheme is modular and is made up of four categories:
 
System Design
Installation
Commissioning & Handover (skilled checks made on-site before use)
Maintenance
 
It is important that when appointing a contractor to carry out any work on your fire alarm system that you ask for their valid BAFE SP203-1 certificate and check that the modules which are
indicated on the certificate match the category of work you require. By specifying this certification as a requirement demonstrates you have taken constructive action and due diligence to find a competent provider.
 
PLP Fire Protection hold all four modules under the BAFE SP203-1, UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification Scheme and are full members of the Fire Industry Association.
 
Who are UKAS?
The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole national accreditation body for the United Kingdom. UKAS is recognised by government to assess against internationally agreed
standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Often companies can display multiple logos on their website and literature showing “accreditations”, which could be affiliations and memberships with trade associations and manufacturers. It is important not to confuse these with UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification and due care and attention must be taken to check this.
 
How do I check my chosen company holds appropriate third party certification? 
To check if the company you are appointing holds BAFE SP203-1 Third Party Certification simply look on the BAFE website ( www.bafe.org.uk ) and use the search tool available.
End users specifying a third party certificated, BAFE Registered provider can have peace of mind that their fire safety compliance requirements are being fulfilled by an independently assessed, competent provider minimising any risks.
 
Paul Bennett is director of PLP Fire Protection

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