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Library: Guidance Sheets: Slick Language - Spotting the Spin


This trade is unfortunately rife with businesses (and in particular some of the less scrupulous operators) that make claims that whilst sounding impressive, are near to meaningless.

This document aims to enable you to spot the difference between the near-meaningless claims and the good effective promises used by the trades more responsible businesses.

A Good ISO 9001 Quality Management Statement

The statement we make (click here for details) is that:

We are BS EN ISO 9001:2015 certified by a UKAS-accredited independent third party (BSI) for:

  • the selection, positioning, commissioning, maintenance, and / or recharging of
    portable fire extinguishers in accordance with BS 5306 parts 3, 8 and 9 and BAFE schemes SP101 and ST104 employing service engineers across the whole of the United Kingdom;
  • the supply and installation of fire-safety signage in accordance with BS 5499;
  • training services; and
  • risk assessment services.

There are four key general parts to the parts of this statement:

  1. BS EN ISO 9001:2015. This is BSI’s current internationally recognised standard for the requirements of a business’s quality management system
  2. Independent 3rd party certification. This means that this is not just a statement to be taken on trust, but that this is independently certified.
  3. UKAS-accredited: This means that the body undertaking the certification has been deemed competent and accredited to do so by UKAS, the UK’s sole national accreditation body recognised by the UK Government
  4. The scope of our BS EN ISO 9001:2015 certification covers all products and services we are likely to supply (i.e. “the provision and sale of fire and safety goods and services”) and specifically covers the key areas listed above.

All four general parts of this statement are essential if it is to have any meaning. Additionally, in the case of fire extinguishers, it is essential to ensure that the certification is also “in accordance with BAFE schemes SP101 and ST104 for the ‘provision, sale, installation, commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers”. In the case 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.

Read more about our ISO 9001 certification here, or refer to our BS EN ISO 9001:2015 Certificate (requires Adobe® Acrobat® Reader).

We will now consider a couple of common examples of similar sounding claims often used by the less scrupulous operators:

  • “All work carried out to the British Standard”: This is merely a claim made by the business - There is no independent verification or certification of this claim.
  • “All equipment supplied is Certified to the British Standard”: Even assuming the certification is appropriate, this isn’t sufficient - just because a car garage supplies good brake-pads, it doesn’t mean they supply the correct ones and know how to fit them!
  • “We are ISO 9000 approved”: ISO 9000 approved for what exactly? Their “ISO 9000 approval” may cover anything. Also, there is no statement that the ‘approval body’ is independent nor indeed UKAS-accredited, and hence deemed fit for such a purpose.

Additionally, even when competitors have what appears to be good certification in place, the scope of their certification is more often than not insufficient for them to carry out their typical works. For example, it will exclude training, the sale of extinguishers, signage, etc.

Good Trading Experience

Parts of our group have been trading since 1947! That’s a genuine length of experience of over 60 years! This is hard to beat.

However, some of the less scrupulous operators quote their experience differently: “Well, there’s ten of us each with 2½ years ‘experience’, therefore 10×2½=25 years experience!” Does a collection of inexperienced employees amount to a good collective experience? We think not!



Further copy to follow

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.