As a direct result of the findings of the Hackitt Report and subsequent government focus on the recommendations for the wider fire safety environment, FIREX International, the UK’s leading fire industry tradeshow, has taken the decision to fully commit to supporting and promoting third-party approvals, independent accreditation and competency for construction products and services.
‘’It will strengthen the construction products regulatory regime, with new requirements to make sure more products are safe, while paving the way for a National Regulator for Construction Products to oversee and enforce the rules.’’ – Building Safety Bill, July 2021
This will mean all exhibiting companies with relevant fire protection or prevention systems and materials will need to hold – or be in the process of acquiring – recognised third-party approval on their products in order to participate at FIREX, which returns to London’s ExCeL on 17-19 May 2022.
This development will enable FIREX International to align and correspond with the current need for improvements in product selection and specification as outlined in the Building Safety Bill, which in conjunction with additional recommendations, will ultimately help to create a safer built environment. This commitment, supported by the industry, will provide exhibiting partners with a unique opportunity to showcase their expertise and commitment to safety, in addition to explaining why their products have achieved third-party approved status.
The move will create a backdrop of high-quality product solutions, as well as a focus on competency in areas such as training and development. Education and expertise will be delivered by industry experts – all of whom recognise the vital importance of products and practises that have been rigorously tested to the most demanding requirements.
FIREX will also actively promote the wide range of exhibitors’ approvals on listings, directory entries and onsite signage and displays, helping manufacturers to confidently display the accreditations their products have achieved.
Ian Moore, Chief Executive Officer of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), says:
‘’This is a progressive and welcome initiative from FIREX International and complements the FIA’s longstanding tradition of promoting and advocating third party approvals. All FIA members are required to have third party approved status, so continuing to align ourselves with an industry event which exclusively encourages compliance is a key opportunity for our members to reinforce the importance of third-party accreditation.’’
Steve Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Association for Specialist Fire Protection adds: ‘’ASFP welcomes this decision by FIREX International to encourage a wider discussion and implementation of third-party approvals. As an industry association we require all our members to have recognised accreditations as a minimum requirement of membership, so it is a welcome development. Competency is a core value of the ASFP’s strategy to educate and promote best practice in fire safety, so we welcome an environment which focuses on the main issues regarding product and installation standards.’’
The Building Safety Bill 2021 has indicated that construction products will be subject to more stringent conditions in future which will include meeting existing UK and European standards. Should this become law, it will be important for all construction products and life safety systems to show acceptable levels of compliance which will result in a direct raising of standards. FIREX International will become an industry focused platform whereby all participants can confidently promote new and existing product solutions which carry valid test certificates.
Gerry Dunphy, Event Director, FIREX International states: ‘’We’ve been keen to establish FIREX as a third party only event for several years. The discussion around a more rigorous approach to life safety from the government following the Grenfell Tower fire has provided a context for us to explore promoting the highest possible standards in association with all our partners. We feel this decision can only enhance the experience FIREX offers and will provide all customers with the confidence that they’re in a seriously focused environment. Life safety isn’t an area for compromise, particularly with regards to construction products, so we’re pleased FIREX can fully play its part, in partnership with the industry, in helping to raise standards.’’
The move has been widely welcomed by the industry and FIREX International has a long history working with a wide range of third-party accreditation partners. These include the Fire Industry Association (FIA), Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), the Loss Prevention Certification Board (BRE/LPCB), British Standards Institution (BSI) Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Warringtonfire, Intertek, Factory Mutual (FM) Fire Protection Association (FPA), and the Fire Sector Federation.
Cris Francis, Director Construction Products at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) says: ‘’The forward thinking from FIREX International to make the decision to only allow exhibitors with a relevant fire industry third party approval will go a long way in promoting the want and desire of such companies to prove their products performance and/or their relevant competence as a service provider. Fire safety is pivotal in the built environment and BRE/LPCB as a third-party test house and certification body can only applaud this decision.’’
Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director at the Fire Protection Association (FPA), adds: “At the FPA we believe that to be truly competent, an individual or product must be assessed by an accredited third party. A key aim of our ‘Know your Building’ campaign is for third-party certification to be a mandatory requirement for all fire safety services and products. By using third-party accredited, competent contractors and products, construction companies can ensure they are working within industry best practice and minimise the risks from fire.”
This important decision to put competency at the core of the show’s proposition will provide these partners with an arena where they can promote their expertise, communicate with fire safety professionals, and become leading advocates for the highest standards in life safety.