Recognising a third party to offer assurance that a product, service or system is of sufficient quality, and therefore will perform as required to deliver the desired outcome, is an uncomplicated and practical way to safeguard any consumer or user. This is especially so in areas that impact on safety.
This is the reason why the Fire Sector Federation, who have members operating and manufacturing in the fire safety critical area, have continuously promoted third party certification (TPC) for goods and services and more generally third party assurance (TPA) for individual competency.
An individual may be well trained and experienced, a product made to high specification with the best of materials, and a system tried and tested but failures still happen. Staying up to date, providing test results to accepted standards and learning from failures and near misses are all part of improvement and markers to higher quality.
Many achieve this step by joining others in a professional association or body or working for a reputable company. This certainly provides a welcomed and warranted second level of assurance and is clearly a sensible and rewarding step; with shared knowledge and wider experiences building quality. However commercial and other pressures still may influence performance.
This is why our view is that by acting in a way that allows external examination of the company or professional association or body by independent inspectors, who have no direct conflicts of interest, is a firm and positive move. Seeking approval, certification or validation from a third party, adds an even greater level of acceptability. In this manner marking one’s own homework, which is never a good idea, is removed and replaced by openness and clarity of purpose and performance.
Achieving TPC or TPA for a product or service raises costs and takes time. And following and maintaining these standards may necessarily be reflected in the overall cost of their products or services. Quality and Assurance are so much more than trademarks.
All the more important therefore that those facing the highest risk from fire seek and use those people and products who have been tested and approved by independent third party systems and organisations.
Although a great deal of change to improve building fire safety is already happening there is legal advice that it is possible to introduce TPC into existing law in some circumstances to gain those higher quality and assurance levels quicker right now.
That is why the Fire Sector Federation is fully behind those individuals and companies that go the extra distance and show their quality.
More Information on TPC and TPA