The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable has been discussing the importance of fire safety with the Fire Industry Association. He also addressed the issue of 'cowboy' contractors.

During his visit to the organisation's new Hampton office, local MP Cable talked about both his and the government's concern that the fire protection in buildings is recognised as vital to keeping people safe. He said: "It is important to get it right at the front end, to ensure fire safety equipment is up to professional standards."

According to the FIA, currently no legislation is in place that forces companies in the fire safety industry - for instance fire alarm and sprinkler system providers and maintainers - to prove their competence via third party certification schemes. Dr Cable asserted the government's keenness to have decent fire protection installed in buildings. 

Graham Ellicott, CEO of the FIA said: "Fire protection companies should be third-party certificated, which means independent scrutiny of their work. Companies should prove their competence."

Dr Cable agreed that the work of fire safety contractors should be of the highest quality. He said: "The government is looking at how industry can do more to help with this matter."

Martin Duggan, General Manager of the FIA, said insurance companies could do a lot more for the fire industry sector. He said: "Insurance companies are key stakeholders in ensuring fire safety in buildings and therefore should be playing a bigger part in the industry."

According to FIA figures, an estimated 70 per cent of new buildings are built with government money. With this in mind, Graham Ellicott argued that government should take a lead in ensuring fire safety equipment is up to scratch by putting strings on capital directed towards these new builds, such as proof of quality of products and installation.