Kensington Fire Rings Alarm Bells About Fire Safety

The Kensington fire reinforces the need for enhanced fire safety planning and certification says the CEO of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), a professional regulating body in British Columbia, Canada that certifies fire protection technicians. “The Kensington UK fire is most tragic and our first thought goes to those who lost their lives and to their families who are now suffering from a situation that likely could have been prevented,” said ASTTBC CEO John Leech. “While details of fire protection systems in the UK are not currently known to me, this fire should ring alarm bells for building owners and managers, occupants, fire departments and local governments. When were the extinguishers last tested and do they work? Is the sprinkler system functional on all floors? Will the fire alarms go off when a fire breaks out? These are questions people living in multiple occupancy buildings should not have to worry about.”

In BC there is a patchwork of local government regulation that requires private fire inspectors to be fully qualified and certified with ASTTBC, a professional regulating body with over 10,000 members, 900 of which are Registered Fire Protection Technicians (RFPT). “While progress has been made in the past decade there are many areas of the province without the assurance that the technicians inspecting and testing the fire protection equipment are fully qualified, certified and professionally accountable for their work,” said Leech. “Far too many communities have yet to enact a Bylaw to make certification of technicians mandatory and through certification enhance public safety. ASTTBC certification is also reducing municipal liability by assigning to ASTTBC responsibility for qualifying and registering fire protection technicians.” The ASTTBC certification program is unique in Canada and one of a kind in North America.

“In BC, only 22 local governments have enacted a Bylaw to require technicians to be certified with ASTTBC. Certification by ASTTBC means the technician has met minimum standards of training and experience, has been assessed as to their competencies, subscribes to a professional code of ethics and follows practice standards set by ASTTBC.”

The City of Vancouver was the first community to introduce a Bylaw that requires technicians to be ASTTBC certified. The City took this step to make sure that the technicians providing the service have demonstrated they are qualified to do the work and to assure their citizens can go to sleep at night knowing that their building has been inspected by a competent, qualified, registered and accountable technician.

“I encourage all local governments to address this issue and enact a Bylaw requiring ASTTBC certification. Many lives are at stake”, concluded Leech.

To learn more about ASTTBC’s Fire Protection Certification Program, please click here.