Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
April 24, 2023


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

IFSEC Interviews

“We need to ensure standards keep up with innovation in the fire sector” In conversation with the FIA’s Ian Moore

IFSEC Global sits down with Ian Moore, CEO of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), to find out about the association’s plans for the show, how it has been representing the sector over the past few years and its priorities for 2023.

IFSEC Global (IG): Hi Ian, can you tell us about the FIA’s main areas of focus in the last few years?

Ian Moore (IM): Following the Grenfell tragedy, everything accelerated for the fire industry. The sector clearly needed some fundamental changes. You’ve probably heard us constantly pushing hard on competency for companies, individuals and products. From a products perspective, they should have at least always been tested and third-party certified – but other processes need more work. I think we still have another year of reports and delivering changes for the industry.

Ian Moore (2)

Ian Moore, CEO of the Fire Industry Association

Elsewhere, the introduction of UKCA marking has been a challenge. There isn’t enough capability to re-test and/or re-certify products in the UK as quickly as the Government wanted – while the process is going to cost a lot of money, just to prove what a previous test has already proved – what a waste of time and money! We’ve worked hard to lobby the Government to ensure our members and other manufacturers at least have more time to put this process into practice.

We’re also heavily involved in British Standards and leading a lot of areas on a European level – including providing strong support for Euralarm – which keeps us close to our European neighbours.

IG: We’re now nearly six years on from the Grenfell tragedy. Where do you think we are with progression and change since then?

IM: We now have a huge array of new documentation which is much improved. Most of the new legislation has looked at better controlling what we were already doing. We had the right materials and equipment; most of the changes were about how we use those things.

The focus of any legislation in fire safety is to reduce risk, which meant we needed to make sure buildings met the purpose they were designed to fulfil and are properly maintained. We can make infrastructure as safe as possible – but we can’t prevent all behaviours.

A lot of the new standards are about auditing, for example, the HSE’s Gateway Plans. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that the Government is too slow to update the standards, so we need to make sure we keep analysing the guidance as an industry, so it stays fit for purpose.

Some decisions could have been made faster by the Government, but we also understand there’s not infinite money and resources available. Remediating buildings was always going to have to be a gradual process but with the updated Fire Safety Act, Building Safety Act and more to come, standards will continue to improve.

IG: How do we make sure the standards keep up with technological innovation in the sector?

IM: There needs to be a process that constantly moves forward. For example, with fire alarm systems, I’ve seen so many versions of standards over the years. Every iteration contains monumental changes for the industry, so amending these annually, for example, just wouldn’t be practical.

The input of the commercial world needs to be built into the process to make sure manufacturers can work with the changes. It’s a balance between pragmatism and the emotion attached to making changes that keep up with new products.

IG: Thinking about the FIA itself, how have things changed within the organisation over the past year?

IM: We now have a northern office, based in Northwich – only 20 mins from Manchester Airport – which will be a centre of excellence for the fire industry. Complete with a training centre, it’s a big bright space which will showcase the best of the UK’s fire products. We’re conscious that as an organisation we’ve been quite London-centric, so having a northern base for our members across the country, as well as visitors to the UK, is really important to us.

IG: The FIA has a key role when it comes to influencing legislation, how do you work in this area? 

IM: A most important part of our role as a trade association is to help the sector to understand legislative changes. But we’re also thought leaders and a big part of that is educating decision-makers to help them better understand the sector.

We have over 1,000 member companies, all of which are third-party certified, or working towards certification – so their input on the issues we need to be talking about is vital. This means our interaction with the Government is driven by a democratic view from the industry. As we mentioned earlier, campaigning for extensions to the UKCA marking compulsory introduction is one example of this.

But we also look ahead to what will next affect our members, as well as taking on suggestions from them. The Internet of Things (IoT) Special Interest Group has worked with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to deliver a kitemark scheme for IoT fire devices. We also have workstreams and steering groups dealing with areas such as cyber security and compliance.

IoTSmartBuilding-FireSafety-AlamyStock-22IG: On the note of IoT, and going back a little to the pace of change that tech innovation is bringing – do you think the sector is ready to embrace this?

IM: I think we’re well-placed with the next generation because they have grown up in an interconnected world. Technically, this generation already has the capability to utilise new technology for the better.

But the biggest challenge with technology will be balancing innovation with safety. We need to keep up with the times and innovate, while understanding how the standards can help to govern new technology. There’s nothing to say we can’t change and alter the standards; we just have to think about new challenges, such as cyber security, when reviewing them.

It’s easy to get carried away with what’s possible – but we’ve also got to be pragmatic as an industry committed to life safety. It’s not as straightforward as guaranteeing there will never be a fire in a building – the only way you can potentially do that is to remove all the furniture, all the electrics, all the fuel sources, and all the people…

IG: You’re once again the official association partner of FIREX. What role do you think the show plays in the sector?

IM: The event is very strong in three elements: showcasing products, networking and education. Through the educational piece, we can listen to experts talking on a range of subjects. The networking element is also important as it facilitates the swapping of ideas and picking of brains; and of course, it’s always good to catch up with friends from the industry!

The overseas contingent that’s at the event in force is a great opportunity too. For example, we’re meeting with associations from Cyprus, Australia and Lithuania (to name but three) to help them with guidance documents, as the FIA is seen as the gold standard. At FIREX, I can introduce them to people who will make a real difference to their organisation.


The FIA’s Networking Bar will return for FIREX 2023 between 16-18 May at London’s ExCeL!

IG: And you’re now working with Mates in Mind – I believe they’ll be on the stand at FIREX, too – why is that collaboration so important? 

IM: We looked around and found the best people working on mental health in our sector. The main motivation for us reaching out was the worrying suicide rates among men, and Mates in Mind is designed around people of working age – predominantly men.

This partnership is about raising awareness of mental health and letting people know it’s ok to talk – there is no stigma attached. We’re trying to help facilitate that message and they’ll be on our stand at the show. We’re not experts in psychology, but we’re committed to supporting this message long-term through our partnership with Mates in Mind.

IG: And finally, what’s next for the FIA?

IM: The big focus for this year is our Centre of Excellence. I don’t think the UK has ever had somewhere anyone can visit to see the UK’s most current and relevant products. We’re trying to integrate that with academia, such as via a partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), which delivers fire engineering degrees. The centre will also provide an excellent environment for training where we can physically show how products are installed and used. We want to deliver a high-level of hands-on training to supplement the classroom education.

Elsewhere, on an international level, technology has helped shrink the world so we can help a lot of overseas companies with their products. There’s also an FIA Cyprus and we’re helping to support organisations in the UAE and Malta, for example.

Ultimately, the FIA is not-for-profit, so anything we make goes back into supporting the sector (often by way of funding research projects into life safety). This means we can be at the heart of improving fire safety standards at all times.


Subscribe to the IFSEC Insider weekly newsletters

Enjoy the latest fire and security news, updates and expert opinions sent straight to your inbox with IFSEC Insider's essential weekly newsletters. Subscribe today to make sure you're never left behind by the fast-evolving industry landscape.

Sign up now!

man reading a tablet, probably the IFSEC Global newsletter

Related Topics

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments