University College London (UCL) has broken new ground by becoming the first university to be third party certificated to carry out life safety fire risk assessments through the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).
UCL turned to the NSI – one of the first certification bodies to be licensed to deliver BAFE’s fire sector schemes – to take it through the process of becoming third party certificated to BAFE’s SP205-1 Scheme for Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment.
To ensure compliance with the BAFE Scheme requirements and to prove its competency, UCL was rigorously assessed by the NSI against the Scheme criteria and documented management system.
Indeed, UCL’s management system process was thoroughly audited, and the execution of fire risk assessments by the appointed UCL fire safety team duly witnessed by the Inspectorate.
Having successfully completed the certification process, dual BAFE registration and NSI approval for the Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Silver Scheme was granted to UCL at the end of July.
Commitment to regular internal audits
UCL’s campus houses over 250 buildings across London, including office premises, classrooms, research facilities, laboratories and student accommodation.
Those responsible for fire safety within the university are now able to prove that they have the necessary competencies to carry out their own risk assessments or sub-contract this work to a similarly competent organisation if they wish to do so.
To maintain its approval with the NSI, UCL has committed to carry out regular internal audits that will ensure its fire risk assessors continue to meet the necessary competency requirements. They will be regularly audited by the NSI to verify continued compliance with BAFE’s requirements.
Keith Todd, fire safety officer at UCL, commented: “We’re delighted to have successfully attained BAFE SP205 third party certification. In so doing, we’ve demonstrated that UCL is providing suitable and sufficient fire risk assessments. It also helps us to ensure that we continue to operate to the highest fire safety and fire management standards possible, and can demonstrate this to our relevant persons, our own organisation and the fire authorities responsible for enforcing legislation.”
Also speaking about UCL’s achievement, Richard Jenkins – the NSI’s CEO – stated: “I’m delighted that UCL chose the NSI to act as its third party certification body. Our certification process and auditing capability enjoys a reputation that’s second to none within the security and fire sectors. UCL clearly understands the value that NSI certification brings, demonstrating its competence and ongoing commitment to the safety of all on its premises.”
BAFE’s chief executive Stephen Adams explained: “There’s significant evidence across the UK to show that end users are recognising the value of competent providers of fire protection services. The BAFE scheme for Fire Risk Assessment is receiving rapidly growing recognition in the public and private sectors, as well as from the statutory bodies including the Fire and Rescue Services. The UCL team should be congratulated for its vision of excellence in achieving this certification.”
Fire risk assessments: the background
With the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales (and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland), anyone responsible for premises that come within its scope is required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment.
The ‘Duty Holder’ or ‘Responsible Person’ for the building(s) must ensure that a fire risk assessment is completed such that, should a fire occur, the building is ‘safe enough’ for the escape of anyone who is lawfully allowed on the premises (or within the immediate vicinity of the building).
By choosing to use a third party certificated organisation to carry out fire risk assessments, the ‘Responsible Person’ can help to demonstrate that they carried out ‘due diligence’ when selecting their fire risk assessment provider.
As a sector-specific certification body accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, the NSI is well placed to provide effective third party certification to this discipline.