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Euralarm Backs European Services Standard for Fire Safety and Security Systems Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 18:34

The CEN/CENELEC/TC4 project committee has been developing a standard to define the quality of services provided for fire safety and security systems since 2011.

The final vote for this standard is expected to take place in the first half of 2016.

The difficulty of being competitive amid rising costs and while conforming to the European Services Directive can compromise quality, Euralarm has warned.

The organisation, which represents the European electronic fire and security industry, has therefore again voiced its unequivocal support for the standard.

“This European standard lays out the minimum quality requirements for the service providers,” says Lance Rütimann from Euralarm.

“It defines basic levels of competence of the employees entrusted with the planning, design, assembly, commissioning, system verification, handover or maintenance of fire safety or security systems. Further, it defines minimum requirements on the service output and documentation.”

This applies irrespective of whether these services are provided on-site or via remote access. It applies to services for fire safety systems and/or security systems, which are fire detection and fire alarm systems, fixed firefighting systems and alarm systems and to combinations of such systems including those parts of an alarm transmission system for which the service provider has contractually accepted responsibility. Social alarm systems and alarm receiving centres are not included.

Meritocracy in an online world

Online procurement and the opening up of the European service market is having some profound changes to this market.

First, buyers have a greater access to a wider range of information and can form opinions before they contact vendors. Service providers with a recognised European quality mark would therefore enjoy be deservedly rewarded with extra custom, believes Euralarm, which represents over 5000 companies with an estimated cumulative revenue of 18 bn Euros.

The internet also allows service providers to gain access to new customers and new geographical areas without incurring significant marketing and sales costs.

Changes in the environment surrounding markets can inadvertently lead to negative impacts for market participants. Measures are needed to counteract this, Euralarm suggests.

Implemented properly a European services standard should reassure customers that quality is consistent without stifling the market’s healthy functioning.

Of the prEN16763 Services Standard’s possible introduction later this year, Rütimann says: “Once a service provider has completed the certification procedure successfully in one member state, the approval process to attain certification in another member state will be in general simplified.”

This gives better access to new customers, but service providers might also find themselves faced with new competitors in their current geographical market. Euralarm, whose members are national associations and individual companies from more than 17 European countries, urges the industry not to compromise on quality in a bid to undercut competitors.

The services standard lays out a constant and uniform quality level for all services. Valid, documented certification will help safety and security officers to carry out their assessments of service providers’ suitability, irrespective of what type of service is to be provided.

This demands that specialist employees have up-to-date knowledge, which can be verified at any time. The standard also provides a basis for assessing service providers in terms of competence and experience in implementation.

Some countries lack national standards for fire safety and/or security systems.

Euralarm cites two main effects from the mooted standards:

  • Certification carried out in accordance with the prEN16763 will be pan-European. National certification schemes will need to be adapted
  • Companies with valid certification from one member state will not generally require a full-scale certification. Two exceptions will be: demonstrating knowledge of, and competency in, the use of applicable application guidelines, which are in most cases national; and if the company is applying to provide a different service and/or for a different technology than what is in the existing certification

“Euralarm is currently working together with a number of certifying bodies on the issue of how to achieve a common certification in Europe,” Rütimann continues.

The services standard, which encompasses planning, design, installation, commissioning, system verification and handover, requires coordination between services providers.

The interfaces between the various entities involved are incorporated into the standard, which offsets reductions in quality and avoid non-conformance costs.

A ‘system verification’, meanwhile, ensures that an installed and commissioned system meets requirements defined in planning and design documents.

Says Rütimann: “The standard also entails a holistic approach to customers, irrespective of the services they require nor the size or complexity of their fire safety and/or security system(s).” The level of reliability, resilience and availability of a system over time are directly dependent on maintenance, which consists of regular inspection, repair, replacement of worn out parts and improvement.

“Anyone carrying out maintenance must demonstrate their ability and competence to cover these four parts. He continues: “When the standard is implemented customers can expect measurable criteria in terms of competence, expertise and quality for these four parts. Even if they only require one part, there would be a causal effect, which would have a positive influence on the whole of the system.”

The following graphic from Euralarm offers an overview of how this standard fits holistically into the European standards landscape:

Quality and stability

The fire safety and security industry plays a significant role in working towards avoiding economic losses caused by quality problems with fire safety and other security systems. The tangible costs for loss of lives, injuries and damages to assets would increase by a magnitude in the area of billions of Euros, if fire safety and security systems were not installed and maintained by professionals.

European standards create stability in the market for suppliers and purchasers. A European services standard would provide both a stable basis for a minimum standard of competence, expertise and quality in companies and also for fair competition. Euralarm strongly believes that increased competition should and must not lead to a reduction in the quality of the services provided and that the prEN 16763 European services standard can be a significant enabler towards this objective.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 18:48

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