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Risk of major fire tragedy remains, claims leading trade body

ECA highlights continued fire risk due to under-qualified workers in its response to ‘Raising the Bar’ consultation

31 October 2019

The risk of further residential fire tragedies, following the fatal Grenfell Tower fire, has been raised by leading engineering services trade association ECA, in its response to the ‘Raising the Bar’ consultation.

In the aftermath of the blaze at the Grenfell Tower high-rise block in West London, several inquiries have concluded that installer competency is fundamental to public safety. This is particularly the case in buildings such as residential tower blocks, care homes and hospitals.

However, within the electrotechnical industry, many individuals are claiming to be competent electricians despite having trained, in some cases, for only a matter of weeks.

Commenting on the ECA response, ECA Director of CSR Paul Reeve said:

“This week’s publication of the inquiry findings into the Grenfell tragedy underline the urgency and vital importance of ensuring that everyone who works in and on buildings, where there are vulnerable residents, must be sufficiently competent.

“We should all remember we are talking about ensuring residential fire safety. It’s time to stop messing around with low levels of electrical and fire safety competency, and in particular it’s high time to say a final goodbye to so-called ‘five-week wonders’ - wrongly regarded by some as competent to design and install electrical work in residential and similar premises.

“ECA has mapped the way forward for our sector in our response – we need to avoid settling for lower competencies, which risks another major fire tragedy in the UK.”

‘Raising the Bar’ was prepared by the Steering Group on Competence for ‘Building a Safety Future’. Within its response, ECA supports five recommendations regarding the competence of installers:

  • There should be accredited third-party certification of all enterprises
  • All individuals must have Level 2 or 3 Ofqual-regulated and competence-based qualifications. ECA strongly advocates technical apprenticeships for new entrants
  • The electrotechnical sector should use the Electrotechnical Certification card Scheme (ECS)
  • CPD should ensure workers are up-to-date with the latest regulations and other developments
  • All installers should have core, relevant knowledge of fire safety in buildings, with standardised and mandatory training

The ‘Raising the Bar’ consultation follows the Dame Judith Hackitt Review into the Grenfell Tower fire.

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