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The all so important Commissioning Certificate?

I would like to reach out to all those involved in the handover of all new fire alarm installations whether you’re a fire alarm company, end user, client, project manager or anybody else that maybe involved in accepting or signing off on such works on behalf of the client or organisation you work for.


The problem:

Far too many systems are being accepted as completed based solely on the fact that a commissioning certificate has been issued, why is this a problem you may ask?


In summary:

Systems that are not fit for purpose are being handed over to clients, which result in costly consequences for the client who have just parted with their hard earnt money for a new fire alarm system. I have lost count how many new fire alarm installations that I have come across only to find little to no information on what I’m supposed to be looking at?


· What is the system designed to ?

· What was originally specified?

· What cause and effects and fire strategy have been agreed? If any?

· Was there any agreed variations?


Even when some of the information is available, excellent, we now know what the system is supposed to do but…


· The Lift doesn’t ground

· The Stair pressurisation doesn’t activate

· The doors aren’t releasing

· Sounder patterns and cause and effects are a far cry from the proposed fire strategy


Oh.. They haven’t been connected, programmed or fully tested!


With my commissioning engineer’s hat on, I understand the ‘real life’ issues that occur on site, for example at the time of commissioning the AC engineers, Security engineers etc haven’t finished their works, or it is down to them to do the final connections. However this is not the clients fault.


Commissioning Certificates on their own are only a small piece of the puzzle, for a system to be fully compliant and worthy of any handover to the client or sign off, the following additional certification should be provided (as an absolute minimum) Design Certificate, Installation Certificate, Verification Certificate (if applicable), Commissioning Certificate, and finally the what I believe to be the ‘all important’ Acceptance certificate. In addition, full O&M Manuals should be provided which should include the specification, ‘as-wired’ and ‘as fitted’ drawings, cause and effects matrix and relevant data sheets and user manuals.



The Solution:

I believe we need to steer away from the status quo/culture that the commissioning certificate is where the buck stops, everyone always asks for the commissioning certificate! No one ever seems to ask for all the other important documentation, especially the Acceptance Certificate.


As fire professionals we have a duty of care to ensure that the systems we design, install and commission match the expectations of the client and perform as specified, the question is how do we ensure this happens 100% of the time? How do we get around the fact that we haven’t costed for the additional visits required because ‘joe bloggs’ hasn’t finished their work, and we couldn’t test all functionality because of ‘XY&Z’


I’m sure there are lots of great companies out there ensuring that their systems are being handed over as specified, I just wanted to voice my concern on the growing number of new installations that I have been coming across as a fire risk assessor, that put simply do not work as specified leaving the client no choice but to spend additional money to ensure that system works as intended as not to put lives at risk!


Do we need third party approval/auditing for all jobs of a certain size? I had the pleasure of working in New Zealand for a few years and this is the norm..


Do we all need to include the appropriate contingencies in our tenders as standard?


Please share and let me know your thoughts or if you’ve experienced anything similar.


Simon McGeorge AMIFPO DipFD

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