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Library: Guidance Sheets: Fire Trade Cowboys

How to avoid getting taken for a ride

There are many companies that compete in the market place for the sale and servicing of fire extinguishers. However, did you know that there is currently no legislation in place that prevents anyone from merely claiming proficiency in this trade and servicing your equipment whether or not they are qualified or even experienced?!

So how does one choose the right business to supply and service firefighting equipment? How does one avoid getting taken for a ride?

Below is a list of the minimum basic requirements one should ensure when selecting such companies.

UKAS-Accredited 3rd Party Certification to ISO 9001

As with a great many services and products, sourcing from a business that is BS EN ISO 9001 certified by an UKAS-accredited independent third party is a good place to start. In cases where issues of safety are concerned, it should be considered a must! Choosing a business that is BS EN ISO 9001 certified by a UKAS-accredited independent third party is the best way of ensuring that the business in question is up to date, competent, well-trained and with effective procedures in place to ensure that, amongst other things, your queries are dealt with properly. This Kitemark certifies that and furthermore ensures that this is regularly quality-checked by both the Business’ own management and by BSI’s own independent assessors all in accordance with the UKAS prescribed methods.

As with all BS EN ISO 9001 certification, you should ensure that the certification being referred to covers the areas of business being considered. Additionally, in the case of fire extinguishers, you should also ensure that the scope is “in accordance with BAFE schemes SP101 and ST104 for the ‘sale and servicing of fire extinguishers’”. This appropriately relates it to this trade and further places the requirement for adherence to BS 5306-3 and BS 5306-8.

Trade Association Membership (FIA and/or IFEDA)

Membership of the Fire Industry Association (“FIA”), the leading trades association. A business belonging to the FIA is bound by its code of practice and is your assurance that you are dealing with a quality fire protection firm fully committed to providing the best products and service. Similar points apply to those that are members of IFEDA.

BAFE Registration

Firms registered with BAFE are all BS EN ISO 9001 certificated by an UKAS-accredited independent third party and have adopted one or more of the BAFE registered schemes. In today’s environment of risk assessment, with the responsibility for safety on the owner/occupier, it becomes increasingly important that the quality of fire protection ensures “fit for purpose” and is maintained by “competent persons”. In buying your fire protection from a BAFE Registered Firm you are assured of this.

Staff Qualification

Whilst some firms choose to highlight their engineers’ individual qualifications (which are quite important), it is far safer to ensure that the firm is BS EN ISO 9001 certificated by an UKAS-accredited independent third party. This not only sets out the requirements of staff training, examination and qualification, but also ensures that quality checks are performed on the same staff to ensure that their training is kept up to date and adhered to. Without this certification, what guarantees would you have?

Experience & a Good Trading History

The supplier should have a good track record. At the end of the day, whilst all of the above are clearly of considerable importance, it is also wise to ensure that the business you use also has plenty of experience. Our group has been trading since 1947, well over fifty years and one of the most experienced companies in the sector.

Appropriate Insurance

Whilst it is prudent to try avoid the situation by ensuring your supplier meets the above basic requirements, at the end of the day, you want to know that, if push comes to shove, your supplier is in a position to foot the bill should things go wrong. For this reason, we carry comprehensive Public & Product Liability Insurance to the value of a staggering £5,000,000! Unlike the vast majority of firms in this trade, we also recognise that a large part of the service provided by a quality-focused business is professional advice. To this end, we also carry comprehensive Professional Indemnity Insurance cover to £1,000,000.     …Needless to say, given our strict adherence to high standards of quality, we’ve never had occasion to need either cover though.

We are members of FIA, the Fire Industry Association (formerly FETA and the BFPSA). Click here to find out more. We've over 70 years experience with parts of our group having been trading since 1947! Click here to find out more. We are BS EN ISO 9001:2015 certified by the UKAS-accredited independent third party, BSI. Click here to find out more. We are registered with BAFE, the British Approvals for Fire Equipment. Click here to find out more. We are members of the IFE, the Institution of Fire Engineers. Click here to find out more. We carry comprehensive Public & Product Liability and/or Professional Indemnity Insurance up to the value of a staggering £5m! Click here to find out more. We are members of IFEDA, the Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association. Click here to find out more.