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27 November 2008

ABBE, The Awarding Body for the Built Environment, has unveiled its latest qualification, the Level 3 Certificate in Fire Risk Assessment.

ABBE Research & Development Manager, James Westley and Chief Executive, Roger Bishop.

Employers or people responsible for business premises are now required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment, and to maintain a fire management plan in case of emergency. This includes people who are self-employed if they use business premises, charities and voluntary organisations, covering thousands of buildings across the country. The responsibility was previously undertaken by the fire service.

Fire risk assessments are essential for protecting business premises and more importantly, staff and the general public. The regulations state that the assessment must be carried out by a competent person. ABBE’s benchmark qualification is the first of its kind to enable people to carry out a comprehensive fire risk assessment of low to medium risk business premises, including many offices and shops, to the required standard.

The Level 3 Certificate in Fire Risk Assessment has been developed in conjunction with employers and industry organisations and is a nationally recognised qualification approved by Ofqual, the government’s regulator.

The most recent government figures available show that in 2006 there were 32,900 fires at non-dwellings, causing 1,500 injuries and killing 37 people. Fire can completely devastate a business, causing loss of data, stock and preventing trading – disruptions which for some businesses can be permanent.

Under previous rules, businesses were required to have fire certificates. The new law places emphasis on fire prevention and safety, and what to do in case the worst happens and a fire does occur.

ABBE Research and Development Manager James Westley said: “The qualification is the first nationally recognised qualification designed specifically to ensure that people conducting fire risk assessments are operating to a government-recognised standard.
“We’ve worked closely with industry organisations to bring different requirements and codes of best practice together for the first time. The breadth of skills and knowledge required to complete the qualification brings all successful candidates up to the same level, enabling them to produce fire risk assessments both in-house or on a consultancy basis for other organisations. ”

The ABBE Level 3 Certificate in Fire Risk Assessment is suitable for people with no prior knowledge of fire risk assessment, as well as for people with previous experience, who can expect to complete the qualification more quickly.

ABBE Chief Executive Roger Bishop said: “This qualification will help to professionalise a very important area of workplace safety. Not only do employers have an obligation to make sure that their business premises are compliant with the law, but they also have a duty of care towards their employees.
“This qualification will ensure that fire assessments are conducted thoroughly and appropriately, which will ultimately help to save lives.”

ABBE qualifications are available at centres across the UK.

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