The Fire Sector Federation has welcomed the recent publication of the Setting the Bar report, acknowledging the vital need for everyone involved working on higher risk buildings to achieve the enhanced standards of competency it recommends.

The report sets out a blueprint to improve competence and drive cultural change and has been set out by a cross-industry group representing more than 150 organisations in the fire and built environment industries.

It is the second and final report of the by the Competence Steering Group (CSG,) established to tackle competence shortcomings identified in the Building a Safer Future report on the Grenfell Tower fire.

The proposed overarching system of competence set out in the report is made up of four key elements designed to tailor into ongoing government led reforms of the building safety regime:

  • a new competence committee sitting within the Building Safety Regulator
  • a national suite of competence standards
  • arrangements for an independent assessment and reassessment against competence standards
  • a mechanism to ensure that those assessing and certifying people against the standards have appropriate oversight

Many members of the Fire Sector Federation made a significant contribution to the report across several working groups, with leading roles in the groups responsible for developing enhanced competence for fire engineers, installers and fire risk assessors. Across all of the working groups, seventeen Federation member organisations directly contributed their expertise and knowledge.

Dennis Davis, Executive Officer, Fire Sector Federation and chair of the CSG Fire Risk Assessors working group said: “The Setting the Bar report marks a significant milestone in addressing the building safety failings in competency identified by Dame Judith Hackitt. A huge amount of work has been undertaken to come this far and everyone involved recognised how vital it is to know that people working on higher-risk buildings achieve these higher standards of competence”.

“The work however continues to implement the report’s findings. The Federation is currently developing a code of practice on fire risk assessment to consolidate detailed criteria, is working with BSI to create a benchmark framework standard, is helping create fire safety educational material for those seeking to operate in properties with complex fire risk and has supplemented existing guidance on choosing fire risk assessors. Our commitment is to continue to develop and implement the recommendations to give the necessary reassurance to public, regulators and firefighters that only competent persons will work on high risk buildings.”

The CSG is urging government to make mandatory the assessments against the frameworks for those working on higher-risk buildings, and is calling on government to take the lead by requiring that the competence framework set out within this report [subject to review against the Overarching Competence Framework Standard currently being developed through BSI] must be met by any company or individual working on any higher-risk building.

CSG Chairman, Graham Watts, Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council, said:

“We would see higher-risk buildings as an essential starting point for the new competence frameworks for the whole of the built environment, which would result in a step change across the sector and change of industry culture.

“There is no time to lose in casting aside the substandard practices that have shamed the industry. We have set a bar and we would urge all those working in life-critical disciplines to attain these higher levels of competence. Only then can we rebuild the trust of those who occupy and live in the buildings we design, construct and manage.”

The full report and executive summary are available at