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

5. Recommendations

5.1 Scope of scheme and promotion

  • Based on the results of this research, it would appear there is a need and appetite for a new certification scheme for fire-stopping.
  • However, the implementation of a new scheme for active and passive fire safety will need careful consideration. Decisions on the technical scope are the most challenging. The scope is currently extremely wide due to the many different trades, manufacturers, products, etc. involved in the active and passive fire safety industry;
    • A body of fire safety experts should be convened to help with the design and coverage of a proposed scheme. It may reduce the time this will take if BSD starts that process off and consults on drafts.
  • To implement a scheme, an appropriate provider would need to be nominated and funding of the scheme would need to be assured. As with the existing schemes and based on comments from contractors and Local Authorities, the scheme provider could charge fees for certification and auditing. The commercial viability of the scheme is necessary and more likely if there was help from the Scottish Government with (financial) support.
    • The introduction of any such scheme should be arranged through an interim or transition phase in order to allow a pipeline of professionals to go through the certification process and, thereby, build up a pool of certified professionals.
  • Based on the responses of contractors and Local Authorities, there is presently no consensus as to whether a new scheme should be relevant to the design and construction phases or just construction.
    • The issue of construction site coordination between different trades and the responses of Local Authorities as experts of inspection and verification may lend more weight to an initial construction-only scheme;
  • Insurers have confirmed that insurance premiums are based on the entire UK construction industry and that fire safety and cladding work is seen as high risk. The economics of insurance make it unlikely that a certification scheme in fire-stopping in Scotland would result in significantly reduced insurance fees and costs for contractors in Scotland. The insurance costs are very high and these, alone, would suggest that a UK-wide scheme might be more practicable:
    • A new certification scheme would make much more business and economic sense in fire-stopping if the reform process and scheme were linked to that in England and Wales with a new approach being rolled-out UK-wide. This could be preceded perhaps by a Scottish pilot scheme with insurance suitably subsidised by the Scottish government.

5.2. Qualifications and training

  • There are strong views on the need for improving the skills and knowledge of those involved with fire safety whether at the design or construction stages. To help ensure a future pipeline of contractors and professionals involved with building warrant work, holding consistent and up-to-date knowledge, and based on the feedback from the research, we recommend the following activities:
    • That fire safety knowledge and understanding needs to be enhanced on an urgent basis. To underpin the aims of a certification scheme, a deeper review of the education and training in existence needs to be undertaken to 1) ensure consistency, 2) validate how active and passive fire safety information training is refreshed and upgraded, and 3) check the extent of coverage of specific fire safety elements as highlighted in section 3.2; for example:
    • understanding how fire spreads from different floors/apartments;
    • understanding building fabrics;
    • knowledge of building exits and escape routes/fire extinguishers – testing and using/ventilation/ recognise faults/ where to install alarms and fire barriers; and general electrical and fire safety knowledge.
    • That the scheme, if it is to remain voluntary, will need strong promotion across the trades to reinforce the need for certification and the general and business benefits.
  • In addition, existing training would benefit from review and made more comprehensive and perhaps contain, as feedback suggested, more on-site training before anyone can be called a ‘professional fire-stopper/installer’. The greater use of technology (AR/VR/BIM etc.) should also form a background to a critical review.
  • As the CSCS card is recognised UK wide, relevant, completed training and evidence on CSCS cards could be made more transparent to give better information to customers.

This leaves final questions not fully answered through this research. Although discussed there is a question whether such a scheme be voluntary?

A final recommendation is to consider these alternative steps in the first instance:

  • Existing certification schemes could be amended/enhanced to include fire-stopping, rather than invest time and money to introduce a new, fifth scheme.
  • Improve and reinforce all the training and qualifications related to fire-safety to achieve the result of increased knowledge, awareness and safety.


Email: buildingstandards@gov.scot

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