Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
October 10, 2018

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Growth in demand for fire solutions exacerbates skills crisis in fire engineering

The effects of the Grenfell Tower tragedy are being felt across the fire industry, a study into the UK fire market suggests.

Defying any dampening effect Brexit-related uncertainty might have caused, enquiries for goods and services post-Grenfell have grown strongly, a survey of fire solution providers has revealed.

Wave 10 of the Market Conditions Survey is the latest annual snapshot of trends in the UK fire sector from The Fire Industry Association (FIA).

FIA CEO Ian Moore will present a webinar analysing the survey findings and reflecting on key industry issues on Thursday 25 October at 10.30am.

In the first full 12 months analysed by the report since the Grenfell tragedy, which claimed 71 lives in June 2017, it was also revealed that companies already struggling to find suitably qualified engineers are now having to ramp up recruitment further to fulfil orders.

“The industry as a whole and need to entice more people into the fire and security industry to grow.” Fire professional who completed the survey

“Fire engineers are very sought after,” one survey respondent wrote, with another noting there is “still a huge skills shortage in the industry as a whole and need to entice more people into the fire and security industry to grow.”

A global shortage of components, meanwhile, makes it more challenging for providers to meet growing demand, as well as eroding profit margins.

Concerns were also raised about competence and compliance. If the growth in enquiries suggests landlords and other responsible persons are taking their responsibilities more seriously, some respondents suggested all too many service providers are failing to do likewise.

“There was initially a knee-jerk reaction post-Grenfell,” said one. “It still worries me how many competitors are still offering ‘get arounds’ or interpreting the rules in a way that is for commercial gain, at the expense of what is professionally or ethically correct.”

Another who echoed these sentiments said: “There seems to be a bigger focus on cutting corners where possible – indicating that profits are under pressure. My biggest concern for the industry as a whole is lack of effective competency.”

Said Ian Moore, CEO of the FIA: “With a number of scathing reports on the lack of professionalism and competency in our industry, building owners and landlords are starting to demand the best available – compliant in every sense – as it has been reinforced that they are responsible and the consequences in cutting corners can be dire.”

“This can only be advantageous for FIA members – as we are, by nature of the strict joining criteria, all professional organisations that have taken the time and money to prove competency to different degrees.”

Competence and compliance are the FIA’s raison d’être. Third-party certification is a prerequisite for joining the association, which promotes compliance with standards and legislation among suppliers and fire safety professionals across the supply chain.

FIA CEO Ian Moore will present a webinar analysing the survey findings and reflecting on key industry issues on Thursday 25 October at 10.30am.  The 45-minute webinar will be hosted by IFSEC Global and introduced by myself.

The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe's only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world's leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

  • Grenfell Inquiry must yield “bedrock change” – and soon
  • After Grenfell: Jonathan O’Neill OBE on how austerity and policy “on the hoof” are hampering progress
  • Hackitt’s Golden Thread: Fire, facilities and building safety
  • Fire safety community has to “get on board” with technological changes

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