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IFEDA voices concern over fire extinguisher removal

IFEDA, the Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association, were recently made aware of a news article which advised that Castles and Coasts Housing Association, Whitehaven, Cumbria had removed fire extinguishers in communal areas of their properties. Residents at the property have apparently been told that ‘it is not considered necessary to provide fire-fighting equipment in the buildings and such equipment should only be used by people who have been trained’. The letter goes on to state: ‘It is not considered appropriate or practicable for residents in blocks of flats to receive such training’. IFEDA is questioning the reason behind this decision.

Mike Tobin, Chairman of IFEDA, commented: “IFEDA would question what available evidence demonstrates that the removal of fire extinguishers would enhance residents’ safety. Providing the correct type of fire extinguisher is in place, as determined by British Standard 5306 PT8, the likelihood of using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire is minimal. Surely the sensible option would be to train residents in the practical use of handling a fire extinguisher, rather than removing them altogether. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (FSO) recommends that all premises be provided with appropriate fire-fighting equipment. It also states that for the majority, ‘first aid’ fire-fighting equipment – typically, fire extinguishers, blankets and buckets – should be sufficient. In more complex premises, automatic fire suppression systems may be necessary.”

Graham Ferris, General Manager at IFEDA added his concerns by saying: “Surveys by the Fire Industry Associations across Europe have shown that on average 3 out of 4 fires are successfully fought and extinguished with a fire extinguisher. Where a fire can safely be extinguished by the correct use of a fire extinguisher, then this can clearly minimise the devastating effects fire can cause. As the events at Grenfell bear testimony, any fire, given the time to take hold, can cause untold damage to life and property. The resulting additional costs in insurance, re-building, re-homing, plus the negative effects to the environment, through high volumes of pollution and toxins into the atmosphere, surely is argument enough that the safe placement and use of a fire extinguisher is the sensible option. They not only help contain the fire, providing crucial additional minutes to escape, and can also help to minimise the damage a fire can cause. Therefore I believe that fire extinguishers still play a vital role in the prevention of fire spreading.”

Ferris continued: “IFEDA are currently looking at ways to accumulate data on the use of portable fire extinguishers by operators that have had no formal training, and the statistics on risk associated with this type of use.”

IFEDA, as an independent trade association, promotes quality standards and procedures within the fire safety industry.

Further details about IFEDA can be found at www.ifeda.org or by emailing info@ifeda.org.

Successfully raising fire industry standards for 30 years

IFEDA, the Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association is celebrating 30 years of raising standards within the fire protection industry. The association was formed on a desire to bring fire extinguisher technician training to the independent fire trade beyond the confines of the manufacturing companies. Credit for the association should go to Mr Dave Hulse and his company National Fire Training. Through his good offices and at the direction of the founding committee members, IFEDA quickly added what was to become one enduring principle, which is the stated aim of raising quality standards within the fire protection industry through third-party accreditation, initially being BS5750 and lately ISO 9001.

To this day IFEDA requires that its members should achieve third-party accreditation as a means of continued membership. This ensures that the quality standards and workings of member companies and their technicians are independently assessed via UKAS approved schemes such as BAFE SP101 and BAFE SP203 etc. IFEDA itself, whilst being the first fire industry trade association to require members to achieve third-party accreditation, was also the first association within the fire trade to achieve ISO 9001 for its services to members and training courses.

IFEDA members are fire protection service companies, and membership works on the democratic principle of one member, one vote. From humble beginnings, IFEDA board members now sit on various industry committees including British Standards workings groups for fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire safety signage. In addition they also sit on various BAFE scheme committees including fire extinguisher technicians, fire alarms, kitchen suppression and the dry/wet riser scheme. This ensures that IFEDA members’ voices and points of view are represented across the industry.

Graham Ferris, General Manager at IFEDA commented: “There are simply too many people who have made massive and telling contributions to this association over the past 30 years to try and name and pay tribute to their efforts and input, to do so would risk offending an omission who was equally deserving. However, special mention should be made with regards to my immediate predecessor Mr Ray Griffin and our long-time Chairman and now Executive President Mr Colin Payne. Both, in the early 2000’s, were at the inception of major changes in IFEDA not least in making the, then cost-prohibitive, attainment of ISO 9001 available to all the membership, irrespective of their company size.”

Mike Tobin, Chairman of IFEDA remarked: “2019 marks an important milestone in this fast paced and ever-changing industry. I am honoured to be part of the IFEDA journey which has been built from the heart. With sustainable foundations that are built with human spirit, and a drive to continually improve the relevant industry standards. We believe IFEDA is possibly the most authentic trade association within the fire safety sector. Our aim going forward is to direct our operations to assisting members in a fast-moving market, backed with applications to assist in the day to day engineering of systems and services.”

IFEDA continues to raise standards within the fire protection industry, and achieves this by running training courses across a number of disciplines, including: fire alarms, fire extinguishers, dry risers, hose reels, train the trainer, and fire safety signage. All of IFEDA’s training courses have Continuing Professional Development status from the Construction CPD Certification Scheme.

IFEDA elects new Chairman to help move the association forward

IFEDA, the Independent Fire Engineering & Distributors Association, welcomes Mike Tobin as the new Chairman of the association. Mr Tobin was voted in at the recent IFEDA AGM.

Mr Tobin has worked in the fire protection industry for 27 years, and is Managing Director of Security and Fire Experts Ltd (SAFE). With a background in fire detection and alarm systems, he has evolved SAFE which now provides fire extinguishers, security, and electrical installations to clients worldwide. This recent growth ensures Mr Tobin is up-to-date with fire safety systems and legislation. Having been an active member of IFEDA for 6 years, it was a natural progression for him to be voted in as Chairman of IFEDA.

Mike Tobin said: “I am deeply honoured by the vote of confidence to represent IFEDA as chairman. I am also profoundly grateful to my predecessor, Colin Payne, whom over the years has shown an overwhelming commitment to the industry and our association. I feel there is a need for a change not only in IFEDA but across the industry, and I hope that with the support of the members and the association as a whole, we can work together to have a huge and positive input into this change for the good of all. Rest assured that I will work tirelessly to represent IFEDA and will ensure that I keep the best interests of our association as a main focus.”

Graham Ferris, General Manager at IFEDA commented: “We are pleased to welcome Mike to the role of Chairman. With his experienced background in the fire protection industry, Mike will help drive the association forward. IFEDA has the clear aim of promoting quality standards within the fire protection industry, and with Mike as Chairman we will continue to achieve this by offering industry approved training courses, and ensuring members work to achieve quality management systems.”

Further details about IFEDA can be found at: www.ifeda.org