Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
Single European services standard for fire and security gains support from international trade body
Published:  27 March, 2015

Euralarm adds its support to the CEN/CENELEC/TC4 project committee which has been working since 2011 on a standard that defines the quality of services provided for fire safety and security systems: “Services for fire safety and security systems”.

It is anticipated that the final vote for this standard will take place in the first half of 2016.

According to Euralarm, the new standard will help the fire and security industry to remain competitive whilst providing a quality service.

Lance Rütimann from Euralarm said: “This European standard lays out the minimum quality requirements for the service providers. 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.

Changing markets

Euralarm highlighted the effect that the Internet was having on the fire and security markets. The use of the Internet for procurement coupled with the opening up of the European service market is bringing about fundamental changes:

  • Today’s customers use the Internet to gain information and build an opinion before contacting vendors. Service providers with a recognized European quality mark will most likely remain in the short list whilst others will drop through.
  • The Internet also enables service providers to get access to new customers and to new geographical areas, without incurring significant increases in 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.

Opportunities and challenges

The introduction of prEN16763 Services Standard is expected to bring both opportunities and challenges, said Lance Rütimann: “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 will provide better access to new customers, but service providers might also find themselves faced with new competitors in their current geographical market. Euralarm urges that this increased competitiveness should and must not occur at the expense of quality.

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 includes that specialist employees have verifiable up-to-date knowledge. The standard also provides a basis for assessing service providers in terms of competence and experience in implementation.

  • Euralarm expects certifiying bodies to also notice a difference due to this new standard. Currently, not every country has national standards for the provision of services on fire safety and/or security systems. The three main impacts that will be felt are:
  • 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 the applicable application guidelines, which are in most cases national.

- 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 continued.

Holistic approach

The services standard covers all services: planning, design, installation, commissioning, system verification and handover. It also requires coordination between the various services providers. The interfaces between the various entities involved are taken into account in the standard. This helps to counter reductions in quality and avoid non-conformance costs. Further, the “system verification” stage ensures that an installed and commissioned system meets the requirements as defined in the planning and design documents.

“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),” said Rütimann.

“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.”

How this standard fits into the European standards landscape can be seen here: