Nic Preston, Qualifications Manager – FireQual, discusses the work of Ember Compliance and our new association with FireQual with Director, Simon Lawrence.
Nic Preston: Can you describe the work of Ember Compliance and how you support the fire safety industry?
Simon: Ember Compliance was established in 2000 to provide independent compliance training and management system consultancy for fire safety and security companies within the UK.
There are excellent individuals and companies providing tremendous services to purchasers who rely on their professionalism and service provision to meet their own fire safety responsibilities. Through several recent events, it has been highlighted that standards, responsibility, and competence within the fire safety industry, has room for improvement.
Ember supports companies improving professional standards by:
- Supporting individual and company competence through industry leading training and training development;
- Supporting companies meeting the requirements of industry schemes such as BAFE / ISO, initially through certification process and on an ongoing basis.
The companies we support are wide ranging from national corporate to individual technicians. Our clients come from various sectors of the industry including architects, building control, housing providers, consultants, designers, and technicians.
Competence has never been such a key topic within the industry. The word ‘competence’ is often misused and/or misunderstood within businesses operating in the fire safety sector. We help businesses navigate through the various elements of ‘competence’.
All management systems have a requirement for establishing competence needs and developing a process for measuring relevant staff against those needs. Such needs will usually include known industry requirements (baseline) and should also include specific business needs established on; business sector, methodology of delivery etc. As such, each business will have similar, but different, competency requirements.
We assist in developing a ‘competence criteria’ specific to the business and review the technical staff on an initial and ongoing basis. The ‘gaps’ outcome can then be developed into a training plan.
We also provide technical compliance training to develop an individual’s knowledge and understanding of industry requirements. Our training includes base/advanced knowledge courses which lead to SQA Accreditation/Ofqual certificated examinations through Awarding Organisations such as FireQual, and also a range of further CPD style courses which support industry needs.
Our training portfolio is developed by leading industry experts to help advance an individual’s career and demonstrate a known level of knowledge to interested parties and delivered by independent fire & security industry experts e.g., educational lecturers, expert witnesses, 3rd party certification auditors, etc.
As the fire and security industry in the UK is highly regulated from government, industry specific schemes, standards, and clients, creating and maintaining a quality management system can be a time-consuming process. We provide support services to allow our clients to concentrate on running their business with the knowledge that Ember is providing industry leading compliance support.
Nic: Why did you choose to work with FireQual?
Simon: FireQual is a leading awarding organisation recognised for providing specialist qualifications for the fire safety industry. As Ember Compliance is a learning centre of choice within the fire safety industry, we identified FireQual as a good fit for Ember, our clients, and our learners.
Nic: What do you feel are the current challenges within the fire safety industry?
Simon: We identify two major challenges within the fire safety industry:
- The contractual method of delivering construction type work and the contractual pressures placed upon fire safety companies which may conflict with fire safety objectives;
- The level of technical skills and the availability of competent personnel.
As a learning centre, we aim to assist and support firms with the latter challenge; however, the former is probably for other higher level stake holders to address.
Nic: Why do you feel the development of knowledge and skills is important to the fire safety industry?
Simon: The level of knowledge and skills within the fire safety industry is variable to say the least. Many parties enter the industry from a range of backgrounds. There are good firms out there that drive the quality of skill levels; however, there is clearly a skills gap within the industry which needs to be addressed. There are several reasons why the development of knowledge and skills benefit the fire safety industry, a few of which are identified below:
- Technicians and operatives – security in the knowledge of knowing and understanding industry requirements and their role as part of a recognised quality industry;
- Fire safety companies – safety in the knowledge that they and their staff are meeting industry and regulative requirements;
Clients and customers – safety in the knowledge that firms are working to the highest standards and are supporting them in terms of meeting their fire safety responsibilities.
By raising the standard of training, which in turn develops the skills and knowledge of the engineers you naturally increase the professionalism of the fire safety sector.
Nic: How do you feel regulated qualifications can support the industry?
Simon: There are recognised apprenticeships for young persons entering the industry. There is also a plethora of training providers offering courses for mature learners. It is rather revealing when interviewing technicians and operatives who work within the fire safety sector, many will confirm they have learned ‘on the job’ from their colleagues which is not ideal.
Having regulated qualifications can support the industry by having consistent quality of outcome for learners hence providing industry with technicians and operatives with known and recognised levels of achievement. This will support employers in assessing competence of their staff and drive competence to consistent levels throughout the fire safety industry.
If you would like to see how your organisation can also join the FireQual Approved Training Centre Network and support the development of knowledge and competence throughout the fire safety sector, click here
We would be delighted to discuss how Ember Compliance may be of assistance to your firm. Please get in touch:
T: 0330 555 0319