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March 11, 2011

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‘Secure by default’ in the age of converged security

Scottish Government recognises the benefits of third party certification

In a departure from previous practice, the Scottish Government have now incorporated advice to duty holders, on whom duties are imposed under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, on the benefits of using companies with third party certification for the provision of fire protection products and services.

Until now, guidance to duty holders made no reference to third party certification schemes or their benefits. This is also true of the technical handbooks that support the Building (Scotland) Regulations, and is in distinct contrast to the recommendations and advice regarding such schemes contained in the equivalent guides in England and Wales.

However, last year during the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the deaths of 14 residents of the Rosepark Care Home in Lanarkshire in 2004, an expert witness for the Crown, Colin Todd, recommended that Scottish Government guidance should make duty holders aware of the existence of third party certification schemes and their benefits. During cross examination, the Advocate for Scottish Government confirmed to the FAI that this recommendation would be considered.

In an apparent consequence of this assurance, the Scottish Government website that provides guidance to duty holders on the Scottish fire safety legislation (www.firelawscotland.org) has recently been updated to include a new FAQ, which makes reference to third party certification schemes for fire protection products and services. In an answer to an FAQ about how a duty holder can be sure about the quality of a fire protection product or service, the Scottish Government advice is:

“Contractors should be competent and fire protection products should be fit for their purpose and properly installed and maintained. Third party certification is one method of providing a reasonable assurance of quality.

“Third-party certification or assurance for products and services involves a certification body independently checking competencies and processes and that standards are being met. If the certification body is reputable, this can be an effective means of providing assurance.

“Products and services that are not third-party approved are not necessarily less reliable, but third-party quality assurance can offer the comfort that products and services are fit for purpose.”

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