Exploring the potential for a certification scheme for fire stopping: report

Research to take forward the proposal from the final report from the Review Panel on Building Standards Compliance and Enforcement and identify if there is a demand for a certification scheme for fire-stopping within the current Scottish building warrant process.

This document is part of 2 collections

2. The Fire-stopping landscape in Scotland

This chapter sets out details of recent literature regarding various fire tragedies and building failures in Scotland and England, reports on potential fire safety and prevention measures as well as the legislation, training and associations involved with fire safety in Scotland.

2.1 Existing certification schemes in Scotland

Certification is an optional measure for the application of building regulations in Scotland and is a system operated by the Scottish Government Building Standards Division (BSD). Scottish Ministers have the power to approve certification schemes, appoint verifiers and approve certifiers as either Approved Certifiers of Design or Approved Certifiers of Construction. Certification schemes are based on the fundamental principle that suitably qualified and experienced building professionals and tradespeople take responsibility for ensuring that specified elements of the design or construction on any given project comply with all building regulations in force at that time.

Building professionals and tradespeople must be qualified to carry out certification tasks and need to demonstrate they have the required experience. They must also be employed by a reputable company. Utilising an Approved Certifier removes the need for verifiers to heavily scrutinise designs or carry out inspections[8]. Certification only applies to works that are subject to the building warrant process and certification is carefully monitored through regular audits of scheme members. Scottish Ministers have powers to authorise a certification scheme.

Developers applying for building warrants have the option to include certificates from Approved Certifiers of Design as part of the application process and from Approved Certifiers of Construction as part of the completion certificate process. These certificates highlight to the verifier that the work carried out complies with the building regulations in force at the time and therefore the verifier checks required are minimal.

In order to become an Approved Certifier, applicants must demonstrate their level competency through:

  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Understanding of the role of Approved Certifier to certify that specified aspects of design or construction comply with the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

The Certification Register, an online register held by the Scottish Government, is the definitive list of qualified professionals who can certify work in Scotland. The register contains membership details for the four certification schemes and identifies ‘Approved Certifiers’, both individuals and firms, who work across Scotland and approved to carry out certification services.

The certification register allows:

Members of the public to:

  • identify certification schemes;
  • find an Approved Body; or
  • check the registration of a firm that they know.

Local authority verifiers to:

  • check validity of a certificate of design;
  • check notice of intent to use an Approved Certifier of Construction; or
  • check validity of a certificate of construction.

The four certification schemes currently in existence are:

  • Certification of Design (Building Structures);
  • Approved Certifiers of Design (ACD) Scheme – energy for domestic (housing) and non-domestic (commercial) buildings in Scotland;
  • Certificate of Construction (Electrical Installations);
  • Approved Certifiers of Construction Scheme – drainage, heating, plumbing.

The details of each of these schemes and their scheme providers are outlined in Appendix 3.

New scheme creation

For a new scheme to be approved it must be relevant to the certification of Building (Scotland) Regulations. It is required to meet specific criteria defined in the legislation and is approved at the discretion of the Scottish Ministers. The scheme will then be delivered by an organisation or body referenced as the ‘scheme provider’. Criteria for membership of the scheme depends greatly on the scope of work being certified and criteria is set out by the scheme provider and then approved by BSD.[9]

2.2 Fire safety installation issues and failings

A series of building failures in Scotland and England in recent years (for example, Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh, the DG One Complex in Dumfries and Galloway, and the Grenfell Tower fire in London) have revealed significant deficiencies in building standards and a lack of compliance with building and fire safety regulations. Legal consideration of the Grenfell Tower tragedy is ongoing, but the Scottish Government acted promptly and in parallel established reviews into the overall impacts of, and potential resolutions to, incidents in Scotland and including as much as was known of the causes of the Grenfell fire.

Oxgangs Primary School, Edinburgh

In January 2016, an outer brick wall at Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh collapsed. The collapse triggered investigations into the structural integrity of other schools around Edinburgh which in turn led to the discovery of similar defects in a further 16 schools, all built around the same time as the Oxgangs School. The discovery forced Edinburgh council to close the schools.

In response to these discoveries, the City of Edinburgh Council commissioned a study undertaken by Professor John Cole, which concluded that the wall collapse at Oxgangs was caused by incorrect and insufficient use of wall ties, which was the result of poor workmanship and site supervision. In addition to inadequate masonry, the Inquiry into Edinburgh Schools also drew attention to the widespread defective installation of fire-stopping measures which had been discovered across the 16 schools. Professor Cole’s report concluded that, while most of the issues related to failures of the construction industry, they also showed widespread non-compliance with Scottish Building Standards.[10]

The report also identified underlying systemic issues with the quality of supervision of the building work by the council and the Schools Partnership. The report said:

‘There was an over-reliance on the part of the council, without adequate evidence, that others in the project structure, including those building the schools would comprehensively fulfil this essential role.’[11]

DG One Leisure Centre

Similar building defects and failures to comply with regulations were also discovered in the long-running DG One Leisure Centre. The swimming pool in the brand-new centre was shut for repairs only two weeks after it opened and the scale of necessary remedial work to the building as a whole has increased over the years until the cost of them will more than equal the original cost of the building. The building was closed in 2014 and will not reopen to the citizens of Dumfries until at least the end of 2020.

In June 2011, deficiencies in fire-stopping were discovered in the complex. These discoveries came shortly after the identification of extensive defects in the construction and tiling of the swimming pools and other facilities.

The Independent Inquiry into the Construction of the DG One, commissioned by Dumfries and Galloway Council in July 2017, and carried out by Professor Cole, highlighted – among many other things – the severity of the scale of inadequate attention to fire-stopping in the construction of the leisure complex.

‘This Inquiry would particularly wish to bring attention to the extensive failures in regard to the omissions and inadequate installation of fire-stopping discovered throughout the DG One building. The scale of these omissions served to completely compromise the fire safety strategy for the building.’[12]

Like the Inquiry into Edinburgh Schools, the inquiry into DG One also highlighted systemic problems in the skills and knowledge of construction contractors and in the effectiveness of training schemes in Scotland, as well as deficiencies in the level of scrutiny by councils of construction projects.

Grenfell Tower Fire, London

The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 revealed systemic problems in compliance with fire regulations in multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs) in England. The scale of the tragedy and the implications of its failures are of central importance to authorities in all nations of the UK.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, the UK government commissioned an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, to be led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The resulting report called for a ‘radical rethink of the whole system and how it works’, Hackitt drew attention to the inadequacy of fire safety mechanisms in high-rise residential buildings. The report made numerous recommendations about improving fire safety in England, including:

  • The need for a ‘clear and identifiable duty-holder’ who is responsible for the building standards and fire safety of the whole building.
  • Greater involvement of tenants in fire prevention procedures. The duty-holder must make all tenants aware of fire safety regulations and develop a ‘resident engagement strategy’ which makes information about fire safety procedures clear and transparent.
  • Tenants must also be given a voice in the system: tenants should be allowed more involvement in decision making, through the support of residents’ associations and tenant panels, and should be offered a no-risk route to escalate concerns on fire safety.
  • Tenants must also be given ‘clearer rights and obligations’ in the maintenance of fire safety of individual dwellings. Tenants are to be expected to work with the duty-holder to manage the risk across the whole building.[13]

Action in Scotland

Two review panels were established in Scotland after Grenfell, one that looks into Building Standards (Fire Safety) and one for compliance and enforcement of building standards.[14],

Enquiries into building failures revealed systemic failures with the installation of appropriate fire-stopping measures and compliance with fire regulations. The incidents in Scotland also revealed significant deficiencies in standards in the construction industry and a lack of effectiveness of training schemes, together with inadequacies of scrutiny of the building works by the relevant local councils.

The panel which looked at Building Standards concluded that, while the current structure of mandatory functional standards supported with performance-based or prescriptive guidance in the Technical Handbooks works, other improvements can be made to fire-safety regulations, especially for multi-occupancy residential buildings. These include changes to simple guidance on the following;

  • External cladding.
  • Escape systems.
  • Automatic fire suppression systems.
  • A better mechanism for the verification of fire safety engineering solutions.

The panel which looked at the enforcement of building standards concluded that, although they consider the Scottish system of building standards as not being “broken”, there is a clear need to strengthen compliance. The panel concluded that in Scottish Building Standards, there is too much focus on approval of the building at the design stage and not enough to ensure that buildings comply with standards as they are being constructed.[16]

The latter panel recommended that this imbalance should be redressed. That is, greater focus should be applied to ensuring that buildings comply with the regulations as they are being built. The panel expressed concern that staffing levels may be inadequate and that there may also be a deficiency in skills at the contractor and at local government level to ensure that all new buildings comply with regulations.[17]

Key issues that were highlighted by the panel were:

  • Deficiencies in the installation of fire-stopping methods.
  • Lack of responsibility for building safety and maintaining fire and structural safety of the whole building.
  • Too much focus on delivering approval at the design stage and not enough focus on ensuring that buildings are actually built in compliance with the regulations.
  • Deficiencies in the level of scrutiny by local authorities.
  • Lack of resource at local authority level to undertake that scrutiny.
  • Systematic problems in skills and knowledge of construction contractors.
  • Ineffectiveness of training schemes.

The following recommendations were made by the panel:

  • The need for a more robust approach to verification when dealing with risk and complex buildings;
  • The need to strengthen skills and provide access to training for local authority building standards teams;
  • Ensuring that there are clear roles and responsibilities for everyone involved in building projects;
  • Certification of fire-stopping, a safety related failing identified throughout the Edinburgh Schools and DG One Inquiries.

In line with the objectives of making fire-stopping improvements and raising standards the idea of a centralised hub for fire-stopping was assessed in the Report on The Feasibility of a Centralised Hub for Verification of Complex Fire Engineered Solutions in Scotland[18].

The report suggested that members for this centralised fire engineering “hub” could be taken from statutory bodies or alternatively be privately contracted fire engineers. There was general agreement across most groups that a hub can be a reasonable short-term step along the way toward developing a certification scheme for fire engineering, which seems a reasonable long-term goal (several years away). While it was largely recognised that the Scottish system for Building Standards Verification is working well, elements could be improved.

As an outcome of the report it was recommended that the Scottish Government investigate:

  • Developing guidelines for complex and high-risk buildings in relation to fire engineering design.
  • Addressing the issues of qualifications and competency.
  • Developing a fire engineering verification method to assist engineers and verifiers with ‘simple’ deviations from the Technical Handbooks.

The report established that further consultation with stakeholders on the topic of a hub is required. The overall verification model is currently being reviewed of which fire-engineering’s contribution to the process is a key part.

2.3 Fire-stopping

Fire-stopping is defined as the prevention of any form of fire including smoke and heat from spreading throughout a building. Fire can be contained through the creation of fire-resistant compartments, ‘compartmentation’ which divide buildings vertically and horizontally. It must be ensured that all openings and gaps are fire stopped in order to restrict both the lateral and vertical spread of fire. This is known as a passive fire- stopping method (further detail included in this section). Active fire safety measures systems include items such as smoke alarms and sprinklers (further detail included in this section). Effective passive fire-stopping and active fire safety measures also require good awareness of technical literature and standards, and effective inspection of works on site.

Fundamentally, the selection and correct installation of active and passive fire safety measures can potentially save lives, therefore selecting the right product and ensuring it is installed properly is critical. As all buildings are different, it is important they adapt a method to inhibit fire and smoke spread and provide warning of the outbreak of fire. There are important considerations for fire safety measures: the required product, the environment, the situation as the fire safety measures utilised in one building may not be suitable for another. In order to fully safeguard against a fire, a functional and holistic fire safety system must be used which may mean a combination of products are used and are working together. If one product fails, the whole fireproofing system could fail.[19]

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection states that

‘’ideally fire-stopping should only be carried out by ‘competent persons’ i.e. those working for a third-party certificated contractor or those who have had their competency checked by a scheme run by a third-party certification body. This is recommended in the Building Regulations in the UK and Ireland. If you are not classed as a competent person, it is recommended an appropriate scheme is joined in order to indicate that you have expertise in reducing fire-related liability. If fire-stopping is only an ancillary function to your main profession e.g. plumber, electrician, dry-liner, then an acceptable alternative is to achieve an NVQ level 2 qualification in fire-stopping’’.[20]

The Scottish Technical Handbooks (2019) state:

“Fire-stopping may be necessary to close an imperfection of fit or design tolerances between construction elements and components, service openings and ventilation ducts. Propriety fire-stopping products, including intumescent products, should be tested to demonstrate their ability to maintain the appropriate fire resistance duration under the conditions appropriate to their end use.”

And as stated in the same handbooks (clause 2.0.10), ‘’the performance of a system, product, component or structure is dependent upon satisfactory site installation, testing and maintenance, independent schemes of certification and accreditation of installers and maintenance firms of such will provide confidence in the appropriate standard of workmanship being provided.

‘’Third party accreditation of installers of systems, materials, products or structures provides a means of ensuring that installations have been conducted by knowledgeable contractors to appropriate standards, thereby increasing the reliability of the anticipated performance in fire.’’

2.3.1 Active measures

The Health and Safety Executive [21] defines Active Fire Protection (AFP) as a group of systems that require some amount of action or motion in order to work efficiently in the event of a fire. Actions may be manually operated, like a fire extinguisher or automatic, like a sprinkler, but either way they require some amount of action.

AFP includes[22]:

  • fire/smoke alarm systems – used to detect when there is a fire or smoke in a building;
  • sprinkler systems – used to help slow the growth of fire;
  • fire extinguishers – used to help put the fire out altogether;
  • actual firefighters who must tackle the fire – used to help put the fire out altogether.

2.3.2 Passive measures

Passive Fire Protection (PFP) is a group of systems that compartmentalise a building through the use of fire-resistance rated walls/floors, doors and gap filling measures. Compartmentalising the building, breaks it up into smaller sections helps to slow or prevent the spread of fire and/or smoke from one room to the next. In this way, passive fire protection methods limit the amount of damage done to buildings meaning there is greater time to evacuate.

PFP includes[23]:

  • fire/smoke dampers – used to prevent the spread of fire/smoke throughout the building through its duct work;
  • fire doors – help to compartmentalise a building;
  • fire walls/floors – help to separate the building into compartments.

2.4 Regulatory and technical requirements

The Principle Control of Fire Spread and limitation of damage is principally achieved through compartmentation of a building.

These compartments are bounded by fire resisting elements:

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings

Fire resisting elements are often breached to permit access for services or functional joints:

  • Cables
  • Pipes
  • Ventilation systems
  • Gaps between fire resisting elements and around the penetrations must be sealed so that the fire integrity of the fire – resisting element is maintained.

The key requirements governing the installation of active and passive fire prevention schemes in Scotland are set out as follows:

Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Fire prevention is referenced in sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Passive systems are included in sub-sections of Section 2 designed to prevent premature collapse of the building in a fire, inhibit fire growth within the building, fire spread on the external wall and fire spread to and from adjacent buildings. ‘Compartmentation’ (Standard 2.1) is described in a sub section and is concerned with ensuring that buildings are designed and constructed in a way that will inhibit the spread of fire and smoke beyond the area of the fire source, although it should be noted that this sub-section does not apply to domestic buildings the same principle applies under standard 2.2 separation.

Other sub sections including ‘structural protection’ (Standard 2.3) ‘cavities’ (Standard 2.4) , ‘internal linings’ (Standard 2.5), ‘spread to neighbouring buildings’ (Standard 2.6) ‘spread on external walls’ (Standard 2.7) and ‘spread from neighbouring buildings’ (Standard 2.8) are similarly concerned with structural means to inhibit fire spreading. Active systems are included in the following sub-sections: ‘Escape lighting’ (Standard 2.10), ‘Automatic fire detection and alarm systems’ are covered in the guidance to Standard 2.11 (Communication) Fire service access’ (Standard 2.12), ‘fire service water supply (Standard 2.13)’ and ‘fire service facilities’ (Standard 2.14) and ‘automatic fire suppression systems’ (Standard 2.15). There are, however, restrictions on the types of buildings to which this standard applies.

Section 3 documents information referencing ‘preventing the spread of fire’ and includes information regarding ‘protection of oil storage from fire’. Section 4 includes information regarding ‘electrical installations not becoming a source of fire’, and ‘prevention of fire spreading to liquefied petroleum gas storage’.

Most of the references to the prevention of the spread of fire are implicit rather than explicit and relate to specifics like cavities and active fire suppression systems. There is no reference to the prevention of spread within ‘domestic’ buildings although both active and passive fire safety measures are required to satisfy the regulations.

Building Standards Technical Handbooks 2019 Domestic and Non-Domestic

These technical handbooks are designed to support the application of the regulations. They contain information and assistance in a variety of forms.

In both handbooks sub-sections covering ‘preventing the spread of fire’ are headed similarly to the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 which are listed above together with an annex (Annex A) defining terms used in the Standards. Those related to fire-stopping are also listed in Annex A.

The handbooks also contain discussions and specifications regarding a number of topics and terms related to fire-stopping:

Fire resistance duration

The handbooks specify ‘short’, medium’ and ‘long’ fire resistance duration for building components. Annex 2.D defines these durations in a table (reproduced in Table 2 below), and states that:

‘The designer is free to choose materials or products which satisfy either the British Standard Tests or the Harmonised European Tests.’


The handbooks’ Appendix B lists standards under the headings: Construction Products Regulation, British Standards, Codes of Practice (British Standards), European Standards and Drafts for Development (European Standards). These include:

British Standards:

  • PD 7974-2: 2019 - Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings. Spread of smoke and toxic gases within and beyond the enclosure of origin; and
  • BS 5306: Part 0: 1986 - Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises. Guide for the selection of installed systems and other fire equipment.

Other British Standards listed include those covering fire tests on building materials and structures.

European Standards - BS EN 1634-1: 2008 Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door and shutter assemblies - openable windows and elements of building hardware.

2.5 New legislation

Scotland already has stringent smoke and fire alarm standards in place. The highest standard is currently in place for new build housing and private rented housing, but these are set to be extended to all existing homes.

A consultation on Fire and Smoke Alarms in Scottish homes[24], conducted in late 2017, aimed to understand the views of the key groups on potential amendments to fire and smoke alarm standards in domestic properties. The following groups responded to the consultation: Housing Association, Local Authorities, Lettings, residential lettings, property management, Residents associations/tenant participation, Fire risk/Safety consultants, other (e.g. charities/health/professional organisations/manufacturers).

The following key themes arose during from the research:

  • The need for the same high standard across all housing sectors regardless of tenure. While there is support for the standards currently applied in the private rented sector (PRS) and new build domestic properties, there are some concerns that there should be a higher standard than this, particularly for vulnerable groups of people or for individuals living in buildings with a higher risk factor.
  • The need for fire risk assessments for all high-rise domestic buildings or risk assessments to identify residents at a greater risk of fire.
  • The need for careful consideration of the timescales (including planning, procurement and implementation) and costs of compliance. These are particularly important for: social landlords who may have a large number of properties and who would want to align installation and maintenance with their regular maintenance cycles; owner occupiers who may be elderly, vulnerable or living on low incomes; other vulnerable groups such as those in care homes.
  • The need to consider financial incentives such as grants, loans or subsidies.
  • The difficulties in monitoring and enforcing a new minimum standard in the owner-occupied sector.
  • The need for education / advertising campaigns to help raise awareness of issues in relation to fire safety.

Following the Scottish Government consultation on fire and smoke alarms[26], the long-standing legislation relating to smoke detection in the home changed with the result that all domestic properties in Scotland, regardless of tenure, should now have the same levels of fire detection. The same level of protection is introduced for people whether they own or rent property and for however short a time they may rent it. The Order will come into force on the 1st February 2021.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 is to be amended to reflect the new requirements, following the outcome of the Fire and Smoke Alarms in Scottish homes consultation. These new requirements insist on at least:

  • one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes;
  • one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings;
  • one heat alarm installed in every kitchen.

There is also the requirement that:

  • all alarms should be ceiling mounted; and
  • all alarms should be interlinked.

The following changes to this standard, all supported by the responses to the consultation, are also proposed:

  • specified types of sealed long-life battery alarms as well as mains-wired alarms - reflecting the availability of appropriate technology and encourage compliance, and
  • carbon monoxide detectors in all homes.

The Minister for Housing Kevin Stewart highlighted the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire, the importance of building and fire safety and benefits of the new legislative changes:

“Fires and fatalities from fires are decreasing but even one death is one too many. Scotland already has rigorous standards for smoke and fire alarms developed over time, with the highest standard currently applied to new-build and private rented housing.

“The tragic events at Grenfell Tower last year emphasised how important building and fire safety is, which is why we brought forward our consultation on this issue. Now everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether you own your home, or rent from a social or private landlord.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Director of Prevention and Protection also commented:

“The presence of working smoke and heat detectors have been proven to significantly reduce casualties and fatalities occurring as a result of fires within the home. SFRS therefore welcome and support the next steps from this consultation which will undoubtedly improve home safety for all residents, regardless of tenure.”

Under the Order, all homeowners and landlords and other relevant parties such as, building owners, developers, builders, building warrant applicants, need to be aware of these changes and they must ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to avoid non-compliance.

2.6 Fire safety installers Scotland

An approximation of the number of fire safety installers in Scotland can be achieved using a subscription-basis database that holds 3 million UK and Irish companies, and updated monthly. It includes large and small companies as well as registered and unregistered firms. The database can be searched by specific countries, regions, counties and towns and companies can be searched by SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) and by size.

Unfortunately, at present, fire safety installation does not have its own/unique SIC code. Currently, the installation of fire safety systems falls into:

SIC code F (Construction)

  • 43.21 Electrical Installation (which encompasses fire alarm installation);
  • 43.22 Plumbing, Heat and Air Conditioning Installation (which encompasses installation of fire sprinklers); or
  • 43.29 Other Construction Installation (which encompasses fireproofing).

The database reveals that there are 7,506 companies operating in Scotland under these SIC codes. This number will, however, include a proportion of electrical and plumbing installation companies not offering fire safety services.

Of the 7,506 companies which fall under the listed SIC codes, only twelve have ‘fire’ in their trade descriptions and only one has ‘fire safety’ in its trade description.

One noteworthy point is that all official databases – including the UK-wide IDBR[27] tend to under-represent the smallest organisations and particularly those which fall beneath the VAT threshold or that are unincorporated.

A further consideration is that many general building companies and facilities management firms also carry out electrical and plumbing and heating work and may well be involved in the installation or construction of fire-related systems.

While the numbers which the database suggest may, therefore, be only a conservative estimate of the number of companies that directly work in fire safety installation, it is probable that the deduction from this total for companies within the SIC codes that do not offer fire-system services may be partially balanced by the numbers of more general companies which come under other SIC codes but also offer fire-system services.

An estimate of between 5,000 and 7,000 companies involved directly in the design and installation of fire-related systems would not be unreasonable.

2.6.1 Training for fire safety installers

Fire safety installers provide a critical role in fitting fire safety systems, systems that are there to save people’s lives and protect their wellbeing. Not only do they fit the fire safety systems, but they ensure they fit the correct system to meet the customer’s needs. Technology and fire related systems are ever changing and developing therefore it is paramount that installers upskill and keep up to date with the latest building and fire safety standards. Installers must be fully competent to ensure the fire safety measures are properly installed.

Fire safety installers[28] should be third party certified in order to install the specific product or system required. Approved Installers should carry Third Party Accredited Installers Accreditation such as FIRAS, QMARK, BMTRADA or equivalent in order to provide a reasonable assurance of quality.

Fire installers must now hold the IQ Level 2 Certificate in Fire Sprinkler Installation supported by British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) and although not mandatory, should be qualified to at least Level 3 on the European Qualifications Framework.

EN 16763 – ‘Services for Fire Safety and Security Systems’, lays out a Europe-wide benchmark of quality that should be expected and maintained throughout the industry and the minimum levels of competence for technicians. It is aimed at organisations that offer services such as planning, design, installation, verification. It forms an attempt to standardise understanding and responsibility within the industry to make sure services are of a demonstrably high standard.

Four modules are covered and are required to be completed in order to become qualified:

1. Foundation.

2. Health and Safety.

3. Environmental.

4. Advanced Installer.

After passing all four modules the FIA AO Level 3 in Fire Detection & Alarm Installation, Theory & Regulatory certification will be awarded. This qualification is currently the only one recognised nationally.

Other relevant standards for fire safety installers are as follows:

  • BS 5839-1:2017 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises;
  • BS 9999:2017 Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings;
  • BS EN 476-20:1987 Fire tests on building materials and structures. Method for determination of the fire resistance of elements of construction (general principles);
  • BS EN 13501-1:2018 Fire classification of construction products and building elements. Classification using data from reaction to fire tests;
  • BS EN 16034:2014 Pedestrian door sets, industrial, commercial, garage doors and openable windows. Product standard, performance characteristics. Fire resisting and/or smoke control characteristics;
  • BS EN 1366-3:2009 Fire resistance tests for service installations. Penetration seals.

Various other fire safety related training exists and supplied by professional providers. Examples of training courses for fire safety installers include but are not limited to the following providers:

Table 1: Training courses (not exhaustive)[29]

Association for Specialist Fire Protection
Passive fire protection

Fire Detection and alarms

Residential sprinklers through FIRAS

BRE Academy
Fire-Stopping and Compartmentation

Fire Protection Association
Fire Protection Association (FPA) Certificate for Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM)

Independent Fire Inspections Ltd.
Fire-Stopping Inspection Diploma

Fire Sprinkler Installation Level 3

Fire detection and fire alarm systems - installation

2.7 Insurance

Certification carries with it an inevitable degree of responsibility and an equivalent element of personal liability for the certifiers. This liability needs to be insured to make sure companies or workers are protected from any losses arising from claims with respect to their work. Public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance offer this cover with respect to certification. Legislation requires that certifiers carry insurance as part of the appointment process.

Public liability insurance cover includes:

  • If someone is injured.
  • If property is damaged through work carried out or through the supply of products.
  • Legal fees.
  • Visits to client premises.

The limits of public liability in most circumstances range from £1m to £5m. Larger companies negotiate bespoke deals with the insurance companies.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) protects professionals in the event of claimants suggesting they have suffered loss as a result of non-performance, breach of contract and/or professional negligence in the services provided. Cover includes:

  • The cost of defending a business against allegations of professional negligence.
  • Compensation or damages awarded against the business/worker.

The limits of professional indemnity usually range from around £50,000 to £5million for most smaller and medium-sized businesses.

Approved Certifiers are recommended to carry their own PII and not rely on their employers to provide protection. Approved Bodies also require that the appropriate level of insurance cover is in place for carrying out work.


Email: buildingstandards@gov.scot

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