Tag Archives: BAFE

BAFE issues updated fire extinguisher servicing competency scheme document

BAFE has released the documentation for the revision of its fire extinguisher maintenance/service scheme (SP101). This is now available via the BAFE website (www.bafe.org.uk/sp101-2017), with the revision coming into effect from 1 October 2017.

In April last year, after a lengthy consultation period, BAFE launched the review of its fire extinguisher maintenance (SP101/ST104) scheme with the creation of a scheme revision group chaired by Dave Russell. Over the last year, which has included a public consultation, changes have been made to update, enhance and strengthen the scheme.

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The revised SP101 scheme continues to provide the best assurances to the industry and its customers of what defines a quality provider of fire extinguisher services in today’s market and also updates and strengthens the role of the fire extinguisher technician.

A BAFE-registered fire extinguisher technician has always been the defining way of acknowledging that a competent person is working on a given premises. This has now been enhanced further by including additional technical competence to the revised sections of BS 5306: Fire Extinguishing Installations and Equipment on Premises as well as requirements for having training in asbestos awareness and Health and Safety procedures.

The technician competency portfolio used by the BAFE assessors has also been reviewed, ensuring that all technicians who gain the esteemed BAFE Diploma continue to be the best in the industry. Passing the BS 5306 examination is only the first step in demonstrating understanding of the relevant standards to work competently in the field.

The scheme now also offers a dual route option. When the revised scheme goes live in October, organisations can gain third party certification via an ISO 9001 or a Management System route.

Both routes use the same audit criteria for fire extinguisher competencies, however, offering peace of mind for those individuals specifying a certified, competent provider that a BAFE-registered company with proficient technicians is an assured quality decision.

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Fire 360° service from Bull Products begins with free site survey

Bull Products has just launched its Fire 360° service for construction companies. Fire 360° is a 12-step plan designed to provide companies with an effective and comprehensive fire strategy.

From an initial enquiry to Bull Products, a BAFE-certified advisor will arrange to attend a given site within 48 hours, accurately assess requirements and provide expert advice on fire safety strategy. Site plans are fully assessed by the engineer and clearly marked, duly outlining what fire protection is required and where it should be located, saving valuable time and ensuring that the site is compliant.

Following on from the site visit, Bull Products returns quotations within one hour and subsequent orders are acknowledged within an hour of receipt.

Ensuring compliance

Once commissioned for a specific project, Bull Products ensures that all of its products are fully serviced and/or programmed to ensure compliance as soon as the equipment arrives on site. Configuration of alarms can take place before systems are sent out or on site if there’s an addition to an existing system.

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To ensure peace of mind, all fire equipment supplied meets all relevant standards with full certification of the alarm systems. Portable fire appliances are installed and serviced in accordance with the relevant British Standard.

Once the fire equipment is fully installed and commissioned, Bull Products is able to train site personnel in the use of fire extinguishers and on alarm system familiarisation so that it can be used to its full potential and eliminate any user error and false alarms.

Nationwide technical support

To back up its professional expertise with fire equipment, Bull Products provides nationwide technical support for all areas of construction from 6.00 am to 5.00 pm every day in order to assist with any site queries.

On becoming a Bull Products customer, an automatic servicing schedule will be in place designed to remind the client when their equipment is due for servicing to ensure compliance throughout the project.

Another bonus of the Fire 360° plan is that Bull Products can take care of asset management. Under this part of the service, once the fire protection equipment has been finished with on a project, Bull Products is able to arrange equipment collection from site for free of charge, subsequently stock holding it until there’s a need for re-use on a future project. This extremely useful service saves end user companies having to find space to store the fire equipment themselves, while equipment re-use clearly saves on the purchase of new solutions.

Bull Products also cleans and services all fire protection equipment before it’s sent to the next project in order to ensure that it remains compliant.

*Further information on the Fire 360° service is available from Bull Products on the website: www.bullproducts.co.uk

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BRE schedules Workshop to explore reduction of false fire alarms

Across the past 12 months, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) has been working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to investigate the underlying causes of false fire alarms. The live investigations of false fire alarms research work is now complete and a briefing paper detailing the findings is available from www.bre.co.uk/firedetectionresearch.

The work has identified 35 recommendations for nine Stakeholder Groups that could lead towards a reduction in UK false alarms.

With the support of the Fire Industry Association and BAFE, the BRE is now scheduled to host a Workshop aimed at promoting the study’s findings, and is inviting key individuals that will adopt the recommendations from the Briefing Paper and reduce false alarms in their sector.

The Workshop is being held at the BRE’s Watford site on Monday 8 February. The overriding aim is to discuss and develop actionable methods for implementing the research findings as quickly as possible.

“Over the past ten years we’ve seen a reduction in false alarms,” stated Raman Chagger, principal consultant in fire detection at the BRE. “However, this is starting to plateau. The Workshop is aimed at reducing the more difficult false alarm causes.”

*For further detail send an e-mail to: conferences@bre.co.uk

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Hochiki Europe launches fire system logbook to support customer compliance

According to Government figures, the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services have attended nearly a quarter of a million false alarm incidents throughout the last two years, with the majority caused by faulty fire system apparatus. Yet maintaining thorough records of testing and maintenance of a property’s fire safety system has been a legal obligation for domestic premises and houses with multiple occupants in England and Wales since the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 (RRFSO) was introduced. 

In response, Hochiki Europe has launched “the industry’s most comprehensive fire system logbook” for its customers. The new logbooks provide guidance in line with the UK’s most recent legislation to help those responsible for the upkeep of fire safety systems to accurately record false alarms as well as required maintenance and testing processes, in turn ensuring compliance.

The RRFSO is supported by BS 5839, a Code of Practice published by BSI which recommends any owner of a fire detection system records all system events in a suitable logbook.

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 is supported by BS 5839

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 is supported by BS 5839

Hochiki Europe’s new logbooks have been compiled by a team of BAFE consultants. The logbooks allow customers to monitor system activity, abide by UK legislation and have their records to hand in the event of a Health and Safety audit.

The A4 logbooks contain 36 pages of fire system-related forms and checklists in which end users can record false alarms, tests and maintenance work, panel access codes and battery capacity.

The new logbooks also provide written guidance for users around their responsibilities when facing false alarms, changes to the building, routine system attention, pre-alarms and recommendations on how to properly investigate fire safety systems.

Hochiki's Fire Detection and Fire Alarm System Logbook

Hochiki’s Fire Detection and Fire Alarm System Logbook

 

Paul Adams, deputy marketing manager at Hochiki Europe, said: “Understanding the history of a fire safety system and recognising patterns in its activity can be a crucial element in preventing fire incidents. As shown by the BS 5839 Code of Practice, logbooks play an important role in fire safety and are required by law. By giving our customers the option to buy logbooks directly from us at the same time as their system components, they can save time and ensure that they’re following the most up-to-date compliance practices.”

 

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BAFE supports Scottish Fire and Rescue Service research on causes of false fire alarms

A multi-agency partnership is set to study the causes of false alarms from fire alarm systems in buildings and their frequency of occurrence which will result in proposed solutions being developed to prevent recurrences in the future.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is teaming up with partners from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the CBRE Group, CS Todd & Associates, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Glasgow City Council to undertake this groundbreaking research.

Due to the universal nature of fire alarm systems, the outcomes of this work will have the potential to impact within the UK and across Europe, including the possibility of influencing future standards and Codes of Practice in respect of automatic fire alarm systems.

Fire-fighters throughout the UK are frequently called to attend incidents resulting from false alarms generated by fire detection and suppression systems usually installed within commercial premises and often monitored remotely. The cost of these unwanted false alarm signals to both businesses and Fire and Rescue Services is estimated to be around £1 billion per annum.

Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay, director of prevention and protection at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Unwanted false alarm signals are a significant issue for Fire and Rescue Services so it’s important we join with our partners to see them reduced. The scale of the problem is clear. Over the past three years Scotland’s fire-fighters have been called to in excess of 100,000 such incidents, which equates to over 40% of all the incidents we attend. Not only is there a substantial financial cost attached to this but attending needless incidents also means fire-fighters and resources are taken away from their communities.”

Ramsay outlined: “In a real emergency every second counts. The time taken for fire-fighters to travel to a house fire, a road traffic collision or any other incident can be absolutely crucial when it comes to saving the lives of people in danger. By working together with our partners we can gather information on the common causes of false alarms and identify approaches to reduce the number that occur.”

Each unwanted false alarm signal costs businesses around £2,900 with an estimated £300 burden also falling on the Fire and Rescue Service.

A multi-agency partnership is to study the causes of false alarms from fire alarm systems in buildings and their frequency of occurrence

A multi-agency partnership is to study the causes of false alarms from fire alarm systems in buildings and their frequency of occurrence

Benefits of automatic fire alarm systems

As well as researching false alarms, the project will also promote the benefits of having automatic fire alarm systems installed in buildings. This will be done by studying fires where systems have detected them and raised the alarm. Such occurrences will be used to highlight the benefits of automatic fire alarm systems in alerting people to safely evacuate buildings and summoning assistance from the Fire and Rescue Service such that fires can be tackled in their early stages, thereby reducing the damage caused.

The project will involve two Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Watch Managers seconded from Glasgow’s group of Fire Safety Enforcement Officers who will work alongside a fire alarm industry expert to gather live intelligence on incidents that involve the actuation of fire alarm systems. In this regard the project is unique, as previous studies have involved the use of historical data.

Glasgow was chosen as the focus area for the project as the city is considered to be geographically suitable and has a sufficient number of incidents to enable data to be captured relatively quickly.

ACO Ramsay continued: “This is a joint project overseen by an executive sub-group of the Business Engagement Forum, bringing us together with Glasgow City Council and other partners including representatives from the insurance and fire protection industries. Our designated officers and the researcher will attend incidents in the city to gather data and gain an accurate understanding of false alarm causes which is crucial for developing effective strategies to prevent recurrences. Where appropriate, the team will also attend incidents where fire alarms have detected an actual fire. This will enhance the understanding of potential consequences had the alarm system not been in place, in turn demonstrating where such systems do provide value.”

When the team has completed its research a formal report will be produced by the Business Engagement Forum sub-group. It’s expected to include recommendations useful to businesses, the fire protection industry, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and other Fire and Rescue Services as they develop practical measures to reduce the problem caused by unwanted false alarm signals.

ACO Ramsay added: “The project involves the same partnership that helped develop the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Unwanted False Alarm Signals Policy which will replace the eight different policies used by the antecedent services. Under this single nationwide approach, fire-fighters across Scotland will engage with duty holders and advocate a multi-stage action plan in response to the actuation of a fire alarm system.”

The cost of unwanted false fire alarm signals to both businesses and Fire and Rescue Services is estimated to be around £1 billion per year

The cost of unwanted false fire alarm signals to both businesses and Fire and Rescue Services is estimated to be around £1 billion per year

Ramsay asserted: “Cutting the number of unwanted false alarm signal incidents will reduce financial costs to ourselves and businesses, and also cut the demand placed on a community’s fire and rescue resources. One clear and immediate benefit will be to reduce the number of times our appliances have to travel under blue lights, which will lower the risk to our crews and other road users. We want to build on this work, and the research project will help Fire and Rescue Services and businesses to tackle the issue.”

Main objectives to be addressed

There’s no fixed timescale for the research to be completed, although it’s anticipated that the project may take around a year to produce a report.

The main objectives are:
• The collation of comprehensive data in relation to unwanted false alarm signal incidents
• Identification of the common causes of unwanted false alarm signal incidents, including appropriate classification
• Improved engagement between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the fire industry and businesses in relation to unwanted false alarm signal incidents
• A reduction in the volume of unwanted false alarm signal incidents within the Glasgow city area
• Provision of intelligence to help reduce the volume of unwanted false alarm signal incidents across Scotland

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Unwanted Fire Alarm Signal Policy ‘go live’ date was 1 December 2014. It replaces existing policies which varied between the eight Fire and Rescue Services that operated in Scotland prior to April 2013.

A previous study undertaken by the BRE entitled: ‘The Causes of False Fire Alarms in Buildings’ is available at: http://www.bre.co.uk/podpage.jsp?id=1752

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UCL becomes first university to be third party certificated through NSI for life safety fire risk assessments

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.

Simon Cooke (UCL’s fire safety manager, left) and Keith Todd (UCL’s fire safety officer) proudly display the NSI Certificate of Approval

Simon Cooke (UCL’s fire safety manager, left) and Keith Todd (UCL’s fire safety officer) proudly display the NSI Certificate of Approval

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.”

Richard Jenkins: CEO at the NSI

Richard Jenkins: CEO at the NSI

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.

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Fire risk assessments in schools: could we be sleepwalking into a disaster?

Government statistics show a steady downward trend in fires in schools from approximately 1,300 incidents in 2000-2001 to 700 in 2011-2012. However, we shouldn’t become complacent – arson in schools still accounts for nearly 180 fires every year. The Fire Industry Association’s technical manager Philip Martin explains the fire risks facing modern schools and what can be done to keep these locations safe.

Schools are changing places. They’re facing budget cuts and increasing demands to accept students of all abilities. For their part, secondary schools are being pressured into concentrating more on vocational studies, which could suggest an increase in laboratory and workshop activities.

Budget cuts could result in a reduced investment in fire safety measures, just as there’s an increase in the number of vulnerable people and hazards. It’s a potentially dangerous combination.

We need to bear in mind that fire safety legislation, which requires a fire risk assessment to be carried out in all schools throughout the UK, is focused on life safety. However, the biggest concern for many school governors may be the risk of arson. The life safety fire risk assessment isn’t concerned with property protection, but any measure taken to preserve life will tend to protect property.

The Fire Risk Assessment

The first question you should consider when carrying out a fire risk assessment is: ‘How can a fire start?’ The answer naturally falls into one of two groups: accidentally or deliberately. Not all hazards can be eliminated but they can all be managed. The Government’s guidance on educational premises covers this quite thoroughly.

When considering measures to prevent arson it helps to use your imagination. Stand outside the premises when it’s locked and empty and ask yourself how you would start a fire. Remember, most arsonists come prepared with nothing more than a lighter. That bin full of paper or pile of timber against the wall will start to look very appealing.

The life safety fire risk assessment isn’t concerned with property protection but any measure taken to preserve life will tend to protect property

The life safety fire risk assessment isn’t concerned with property protection but any measure taken to preserve life will tend to protect property

We need to think about physical security and removing or securing combustibles away from the school buildings, particularly away from overhanging eaves. We then need to think about intruder alarms and CCTV, both as deterrents and response mechanisms. Finally, we need to consider fire detection and sprinklers. BB100 offers some very sound advice on these matters.

As the fire risk assessor, you will need to look at the physical fire safety measures, the hardware and the management of fire safety, the software. Oddly, the hardware is probably the easier to assess as you can see and touch it. The software can be a puzzle.

You may have detailed procedures and comprehensive records but you need to be confident that they will work if put into practice. It could be useful to ask members of staff specific questions about what they’re supposed to do and what they would actually do. Ask them direct questions about what they know in relation to fire safety and who is responsible for what on site.

Taking responsibility: who’s in control?

This raises another question: ‘Who’s in control?’ Getting everyone in academic institutions to work together can be difficult. However, to make the premises safe someone has to take control, both generally and in an emergency. Legally, the organisation has to appoint an individual or individuals to be responsible for all aspects of fire safety. If more than one person is given responsibility, they should be co-ordinated and share information between them. Everyone in the organisation must be clear about their part in maintaining fire safety.

It may seem obvious that fire protection equipment such as fire alarms, extinguishers and emergency lighting should be serviced on a regular basis. Also needing a system of inspection and maintenance are elements such as fire-resisting walls, floors (ceilings) and doors, along with fire exits, extract systems (such as cooker hoods), ducts (especially fire dampers in ducts), fire safety signs and notices, fixed electrical systems and portable appliances (to name but a few).

Much of this maintenance isn’t costly or time-consuming. A simple walk around can be sufficient for inspecting and maintaining systems, and could be combined with a check on security systems and general housekeeping. There are two key points to note. Maintenance has to be planned and it has to be recorded. A simple logbook can help. The FIA has developed a new logbook which is available from FIA member companies.

Philip Martin: technical manager at the FIA

Philip Martin: technical manager at the FIA

The management of fire safety also needs periodic review looking at various aspects such as who is responsible for the management system, staff training, procedures (and not just the emergency procedures), records of maintenance supplier contracts and, of course, the fire risk assessment itself.

Fire drills will prove that the evacuation strategy works. Government guidance recommends that such a drill is carried out at least once a year and, preferably, every term. To be effective the drill needs to be planned, people informed and the drill monitored to avoid unnecessary risks (such as accidents on stairs).

The results of a drill can give valuable information on planning, training and the effectiveness of the facilities like alarms and escape routes.

Occasionally, a full evacuation isn’t desirable for safety reasons. In this instance, some form of simulation or desk top exercise may be sufficient – but only in exceptional circumstances.

Safe escape for everyone?

Naturally, schools should be open to students of all abilities. The premises should be adapted to ensure students can get into the premises and access all its amenities.

However, everyone must be able to get out in an emergency. We need to consider people with mobility and sensory impairment as well as those with intellectual and emotional impairment and how they may respond in an emergency. Think about both the hardware and the software when you ask yourself these questions…

*Can we use lifts in an emergency?
*Do we have procedures in place?
*Do we have properly trained and equipped staff?
*Can individuals with special needs be accommodated within the general evacuation procedure or will they require a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP)?

Guided by Government, the Fire Risk Assessors Competency Council (a stakeholder group supported by the fire safety industry) drafted a set of competency criteria and signposted ways of assessing the competency of fire risk assessment organisations

Guided by Government, the Fire Risk Assessors Competency Council (a stakeholder group supported by the fire safety industry) drafted a set of competency criteria and signposted ways of assessing the competency of fire risk assessment organisations

In the past, schools used to employ simple fire alarm systems comprising a few call points and bells. False alarms were rare and the consequences minor. Now, most buildings will have an alarm system with automatic fire detectors, mostly smoke detectors that will often be monitored by operators at an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). Smoke detectors respond equally to the smoke from fires as well as dust, steam and smoke from burning toast in the staff room, for example, which has led to more false alarms.

The FIA has a website dedicated to false alarms. Visit: http://www.fia.uk.com/en/cut-false-alarm-costs for more information.

Understanding your Fire Service

Over the last few years, the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) across England and Wales has been under severe pressure to reduce costs. Stations are being closed and the number of fire fighters reduced. Automatic calls to the FRS are frequently ‘challenged’ and, depending on where you are, an automatic signal relayed to the FRS via an ARC would be classed as ‘unconfirmed’. This may result in fewer fire fighters attending on an initial basis, with the crew arriving at normal road speed (no sirens or flashing lights) – or, in some cases, not at all.

It’s important that you find out about your local FRS’ policy. Also, give the ARC instructions to call key holders as well as the FRS. When the premises are occupied, someone should make a 999 call rather than relying on the ARC in the event of a real fire.

Most people assume the fire brigade will rescue everyone and save the building. This needs to be examined a little more closely. Legally, and morally, if we are responsible for premises and the people on/in them, that responsibility includes being able to get everyone to safety in an emergency. If fire fighters have to rescue people it indicates we have failed.

We should not have to rely on the brigade to evacuate people, and that includes those with special needs. Moreover, they – ie the brigade – will not risk fire fighters’ lives trying to save your property. This means that once a fire becomes established in a building the brigade will tend to attack the fire from outside. Sadly, this often results in the total loss of the building.

Listen to the experts

Many hold the view that, in all but the simplest of premises, a lay person – even supported by the Government guides – wouldn’t have the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out a thorough fire risk assessment. Many Boards of Governors and local authorities are so concerned about this that they only use consultants to do the work. Whether they use a staff member or employ a consultant, how do they know the assessor is competent?

Guided by Government, the Fire Risk Assessors Competency Council – a stakeholder group supported by the fire safety industry – drafted a set of competency criteria and signposted ways of assessing the competency of fire risk assessment organisations. These two documents are available on the FIA’s website at: http://www.fia.uk.com

The FIA maintains a strong position, advocating that anyone carrying out work of a specialised nature should work for an organisation which is third party accredited to a UKAS-accredited scheme such as BAFE SP205.

Could we be sleepwalking into a disaster? The answer very much depends on you. We haven’t had a fatality in a day school in many years. Let’s keep it that way.

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