Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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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.
October 14, 2021


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SSAIB boards HMS Belfast to update its members on ECS changes, standards and IFSEC plans

The first in-person members meeting for the SSAIB since the start of the pandemic took place in London on the famed HMS Belfast on the 22nd September. IFSEC Global reports from the event.

For those of you who have watched the BBC’s latest anxiety-inducing drama, Vigil, stepping on to a military boat built for the Navy for a meeting about the latest security standards might seem a little unnerving.

Fortunately, the installers and members on board for the SSAIB’s first in-person meeting since 2019 were in safe hands, as the certification body for security and fire service providers welcomed attendees back to a face-to-face event which provided several crucial updates for the industry.

HMS Belfast

The morning kicked off with Alex Carmichael, the SSAIB’s CEO, welcoming members and outlining the latest news from the certification body, alongside the work it carried out to support installers throughout the challenges of lockdowns and a global pandemic. Chiefly, he underlined the SSAIB’s commitment to the auditing process, pivoting early on to remote audits so that its members – classed as key workers after a collaborative push from several associations including the SSAIB – could continue to operate.

Alex highlighted the expansion of the SSAIB’s fire audit team throughout the same period, following a growing trend in certified members requiring fire safety certification, as the fallout of Grenfell continues to place emphasis on competency in the sector.

There were also updates on the body’s involvement in ECHO – the move towards the electronic transfer of signals from ARCs to police – Secured by Design, a reminder that the UKAS logo has changed, and that the SSAIB was also looking to update its own logo, to make life easier for installers.

Raising competency levels: Major changes to ECS cards

A key part of the meeting centred around the upcoming changes to ECS (Electrotechnical Certification Scheme) cards as presented by the SSAIB’s Training Manager, Trevor Jenks. The cards are used to accredit the qualifications and experience of those working in the electrotechnical sectors – of which fire and security are a part of.

Designed to set a standard for competency, ECS is now operating alongside the FESS (Fire, Emergency and Security Systems) standard to create a more defined structure for the industry. 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.

As part of these changes, cardholders will need to prove they have undertaken CPD and training to ensure they can renew their cards. This can involve a variety of methods, from attending manufacturer training courses or those led by the likes of the FIA, BSIA, Tavcom, ZZeuss, and others, through to attending industry trade shows such as IFSEC and FIREX to keep up to date with the latest products and standards.

The FESS ECS system is already up and running, with only the experienced worker route for security (intruder, access and CCTV/video surveillance) to be confirmed – the card system for fire is live now. And, Trevor was quick to highlight that many insurers and larger maintenance contracts are already on the lookout for those with the necessary ECS FESS qualifications. The message was simple from the SSAIB’s Training Manager: “Do not wait until you have to do this or are asked to do this. Rather, do it now, do it early, and make sure your clients are aware.”

IFSEC & FIREX back in London in May 2022

As the official installer partner of IFSEC International, a short update was provided by the show’s Group Director, Chris Edwards, and the Event Director, Gerry Dunphy. After an enforced two-year break due to the COVID pandemic, Europe’s biggest annual security and fire exhibition will be back at London’s ExCeL between 17-19 May 2022.

The team explained the importance the show will be placing on training, in support of the security and fire sector’s emphasis on competency. And, as well as playing host to hundreds of leading exhibitors and key vendors, there will be a renewed focus on networking opportunities and more affordable options for visitors, too.

Concluding the SSAIB’s Security Systems meeting was David Roscoe, the SSAIB’s Field Operations Manager, who gave an update on the latest standards revisions that certified installers may need to be aware of. Included were updates to:

  • BS 8243 – Confirmed Alarm Systems (Installation & Configuration)
  • BS 8418 – Detector Activated CCTV
  • BS 8591 – Remote centres receiving signals from alarm systems
  • BS 9518 – Processing of alarm signals by an ARC (new standard)

While Richard Deacon, the body’s new Security Schemes Manager, updated attendees on revisions and changes to National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) policy, including notes being introduced outlining cyber security guidance on relevant installations.

Keep up to date with all the latest from the SSAIB by visiting the team at IFSEC International on 17-19 May 2022, or by visiting the SSAIB’s website.

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