Industry unites to promote fire sector skills

Fiona Harper

SELECT has revealed it helped to shape a new occupational qualification structure by the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry that will lead to Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) card recognition.

Aimed at promoting high standards and skills, the structure has been developed by an industry-wide working group formed by SELECT and other trade associations and employer representatives including British Security Industry Association (BSIA), FESS Employer Group. Fire Industry Association (FIA), Fire & Security Association (FSA), Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB), and Joint Industry Board (JIB).

The new structure is described as setting the standard for new entrants to the market at Level 3 while also addressing the need to recognise the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce.

This pathway recognises the differences in training, experience and qualifications for those already in the industry, which identifies a minimum standard for those who install and maintain fire, emergency and security systems.

Fiona Harper, director of employment and skills at SELECT said, “This new development is a significant step forward as it recognises existing professionalism and also blends upskilling and training with formal and structured assessment. SELECT particularly welcomes its introduction as it dovetails perfectly with our own ongoing contribution towards modernisation of the ECS in Scotland.”

Jay Parmar, chief executive of the JIB added, “A key strength of ECS and its partnership with CSCS is that it provides assurance that cardholders working across sites in the UK have a high level of skills and experience.”

There are now four sector disciplines recognised by the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) in the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry which include:

  • Fire
  • Fire and emergency lighting
  • Security (including access control, intruder and CCTV systems)
  • Fire and security.

Each sector recognises three disciplines which include systems operative, systems technician and technical manager. The occupations of labourer, trainee and apprentice are also recognised by ECS.

These FESS ECS occupations replace the existing Fire Detection & Alarm Systems and the Emergency & Security Systems cards. The FESS requirements will become compulsory in early 2021 for all new (initial) card applications, meaning new applicants will be required to hold a pathway specific FESS assessment for the ECS occupation being applied for. From summer 2021, all card renewals will also need to meet the FESS requirements and hold a pathway specific FESS assessment.

Mr Parmar added, “This historical change has been introduced as a result of the desire by the FESS industry to professionalise and enhance standards in the sector. This key development ensures all ECS cards will be issued against an industry recognised qualification standard by the end of 2020 in keeping with the target set by the Construction Leadership Council.”