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Calls for formal qualifications for fire alarm and smoke control industries

A picture of someone doing a test. There have been calls to have qualifications for fire alarm engineers

There have been calls to have qualifications for fire alarm engineers

NEW calls to create formal qualifications for fire alarm engineers have been backed by SCS Group, which has itself recently called for the same for the smoke control industry.

In an article by John Battersby, Managing Director at Sunfish Services, featured in IFSEC Global, he describes how he has been recruiting for an ‘experienced installation engineer’.

He says that fire alarm engineers need to be trained over several years – like teachers and doctors. But he said you can have a fire alarm engineer who has been a fire alarm engineer for 20 years, but he might just have been completing simple maintenance work.

‘Formal qualification would set a benchmark’

He says: “Recruiting would be so much easier if there was an engineering qualification. Not that training is bad, but a formal qualification would set a benchmark to distinguish the level of knowledge that you’d expect applicants to have.

“Education is so vastly underrated. You can have a fire alarm engineer who has been a fire alarm engineer for 20 years, but he might just have been completing simple maintenance work.”

SCS Group believes there is also a need for formal qualifications within the smoke control industry – in particular for designers of smoke control systems where there are no formally recognised qualifications.

Ben Meek, Contracts Manager/Fire Engineer at SCS Group, recently addressed this very issue in an article he wrote that was published in International Fire Professional – the Journal of the Institution of Fire Engineers.

He said: “Smoke control is a completely unregulated part of the fire safety industry that is populated by specialist contractors of varying size and capability. There are no accreditations required to enter the industry or to call oneself a smoke control specialist.

“We find it incredibly worrying that the importance of smoke control system design is stressed repeatedly within the British Standards and also in guidance written by the Smoke Control Association (SCA) – the trade association for smoke control specialists – yet, nowhere is it stated what qualifications these designers should have.”

Bespoke design versus standardisation

In his article, Ben went on to talk about bespoke design versus standardisation in smoke control for high rise buildings. To read the full article, click here.

To read the full article in IFSEC Global about fire alarm engineering qualifications, click here.

Easivent, the supply-only sales arm of SCS Group, now offers training for contractors who wish to bring smoke control in-house. After the training (subject to terms and conditions) contractors can become part of the Easivent approved installer network. For more details on this, click here.