Author Bio ▼

IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
August 12, 2020


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024


FESS introduces new Occupational Qualification Structure to promote industry skills

The Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry has introduced a new Occupational Qualification Structure leading to Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) Card recognition, aimed at promoting high standards and skills.

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

Uniquely recognising the introduction of the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) Trailblazer, the new structure sets the standard for new entrants to the market at Level 3, whilst also addressing the need to recognise the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce.


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

Everything you need to know about the FESS Apprenticeship Standard

Jay Parmar, Chief Executive of the JIB says: “I’m delighted to have worked alongside the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry who collectively represent over 3,000 companies with over 80,000 employees who will benefit from the introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure and the new suite of ECS cards which recognise the skills of the entire FESS workforce. 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. In addition, the occupations of Labourer, Trainee and Apprentice are recognised by ECS.

These FESS ECS occupations replace the existing Fire Detection & Alarm Systems and the Emergency & Security Systems cards. From 1 January 2021 the FESS requirements will become compulsory for all new (initial) card applications, meaning that all new applicants will be required to hold a pathway specific FESS assessment for the ECS occupation being applied for. From 1 July 2021 all card renewals will also need to meet the FESS requirements and hold a pathway specific FESS assessment.

Jay concludes: “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. We look forward to building on this positive development and continuing to work with the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry in helping them to meet their aspirations, whilst at the same time upskilling the industry in which they operate.”

Pat Allen, Chair of the FESS Employer Group said: “The Employer Group welcomes the introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure which will recognise and promote an increased level of professionalism in the industry. The Structure, together with the new suite of ECS cards which are linked to clear occupational requirements, recognise both the Level 3 apprenticeship requirements for new entrants to the market as well as the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce. This is clearly a positive development and one which will benefit the entire industry going forward.”

Fiona Harper, Director of Employment and Skills at SELECT, the trade association for the electrotechnical industry in Scotland, 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. Ensuring the FESS workforce of tomorrow has the correct qualifications with meaningful assessments also reinforces the importance of our campaign for protection of title, to ensure only properly qualified individuals build an electric future for us all.”

SSAIB’s National Training Manager Trevor Jenks added: “In an industry that includes access control, intruder, CCTV, fire detection and emergency lighting systems, we have to build on the foundation set by the FESS Standard which has been developed by our industry and defines competence across our diverse workforce, not just for our new FESS apprenticeship.

“The FESS ECS scheme uniquely allows for an individual’s existing professionalism to be recognised and encourages upskilling across the industry, measured against the new FESS Standard. Combined with the new Occupational Qualification Structure, this is a long overdue positive step towards raising the industry’s profile and its aspirations to meet the technology challenges of the future.”

Information about the full suite of cards, together with information on the pathway specific FESS assessments and details on how to apply for the ECS FESS cards from the JIB in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available here.

Keep up with the access control market

The physical access control market is moving fast. Find out where you stand with the latest edition of IFSEC Insider's comprehensive 2022 State of Physical Access Control trend report, covering all the latest developments within the market. We assess the current technology in use, upgrade plans and challenges, and major trends on the horizon after receiving the views of over 1000 security, facilities and IT professionals.

Get your copy for free today.

Related Topics

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments