Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry unite to promote sector skills

Tuesday 11 August 2020 - ECS

Press Release

The Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry has introduced a new Occupational Qualification Structure leading to Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) Card recognition, aimed at promoting high standards and skills.

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The new structure has been developed by an industry-wide working group formed by leading trade associations and employer representatives including British Security Industry Association (BSIA), FESS Employer Group, Fire Industry Association (FIA), Fire & Security Association (FSA), SELECT, Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) and the Joint Industry Board (JIB). Uniquely recognising the introduction of the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) Trailblazer, the new structure sets the standard for new entrants to the market at Level 3 whilst also addressing the need to recognise the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce.

This new pathway recognises the differences in training, experience and qualifications for those already in the industry, which critically identifies a minimum standard for those who install and maintain fire, emergency and security systems. 

Jay Parmar, Chief Executive of the JIB says: “I’m delighted to have worked alongside the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry who collectively represent over 3,000 companies with over 80,000 employees who will benefit from the introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure and the new suite of ECS cards which recognise the skills of the entire FESS workforce. A key strength of ECS and its partnership with CSCS is that it provides assurance that cardholders working across sites in the UK have a high level of skills and experience”

There are now four sector disciplines recognised by the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) in the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems (FESS) industry which include Fire; Fire and Emergency Lighting; Security (Including Access Control, Intruder and CCTV systems), and Fire and Security. Each sector recognises three disciplines which include Systems Operative, Systems Technician and Technical Manager. In addition, the occupations of Labourer, Trainee and Apprentice are recognised by ECS.

These FESS ECS occupations replace the existing Fire Detection & Alarm Systems and the Emergency & Security Systems cards. From 1 January 2021 the FESS requirements will become compulsory for all new (initial) card applications meaning that all new applicants will be required to hold a pathway specific FESS assessment for the ECS occupation being applied for. From 1 July 2021 all card renewals will also need to meet the FESS requirements and hold a pathway specific FESS assessment.

Jay Parmar concludes: “This historical change has been introduced as a result of the desire by the FESS industry to professionalise and enhance standards in the sector. This key development ensures all ECS cards will be issued against an industry recognised qualification standard by the end of 2020 in keeping with the target set by the Construction Leadership Council. We look forward to building on this positive development and continuing to work with the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems industry in helping them to meet their aspirations whilst at the same time upskilling the industry in which they operate.”

Pat Allen, Chair of the FESS Employer Group said: “The Employer Group welcomes the introduction of the new Occupational Qualification Structure which will recognise and promote an increased level of professionalism in the industry. The Structure, together with the new suite of ECS cards which are linked to clear occupational requirements, recognise both the Level 3 apprenticeship requirements for new entrants to the market as well as the training, experience and qualifications of the current workforce. This is clearly a positive development and one which will benefit the entire industry going forward."

Fiona Harper, Director of Employment and Skills at SELECT, the trade association for the electrotechnical industry in Scotland, said: “This new development is a significant step forward as it recognises existing professionalism and also blends upskilling and training with formal and structured assessment. SELECT particularly welcomes its introduction as it dovetails perfectly with our own ongoing contribution towards modernisation of the ECS in Scotland. Ensuring the FESS workforce of tomorrow has the correct qualifications with meaningful assessments also reinforces the importance of our campaign for protection of title, to ensure only properly qualified individuals build an electric future for us all.”

Information about the full suite of cards, together with information on the pathway specific FESS assessments and details on how to apply for the ECS FESS cards from the JIB in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available at:

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David Wilkinson, Director of Technical Services, BSIA said: “We are delighted to see this scheme come to fruition after many months of discussion and fine tuning. We were keen to ensure the scheme did not place experienced industry practitioners at a disadvantage where they do not currently hold formal qualifications, so the introduction of existing worker assessments was key to acceptance.  As the voice of the professional security industry, we believe schemes such as this help achieve our goal of raising standards and professionalism and also attract new talent to our industry sector.”

Richard Jenkins, NSI Chief Executive commented: “Advancing standards of professionalism and competence in the sector can only help meet future industry and business needs; as a representative of the FESS stakeholder group, NSI welcomes this important new initiative designed to strengthen high standards and skills across the sector.”

Tom Brookes Chairman of the Fire & Security Association and Managing Director of ZZEUS Training said: “It has been wonderful to work alongside some of our industry leading experts in designing and updating the new Fire, Emergency and Security Systems ECS cards. This enables all grades of workers within the FESS sector to gain a recognised card listing the holder’s qualifications and skills. Whether joining as an apprenticeship or as someone who is fully qualified you can apply for a card. In addition, mature candidates with many years of experience, yet without formal qualifications now have a recognised route to acquiring an ECS Card. Gone are the days where you can apply for a labourer card and access site work. Now you will require a card that lists your skills, qualifications and competencies for the work being carried out. The new ECS card fulfils this requirement and is a huge step forward in ensuring a competent workforce.”

SSAIB’s National Training Manager Trevor Jenks comments: “In an industry that includes access control, intruder, CCTV, fire detection and emergency lighting systems, we have to build on the foundation set by the FESS Standard which has been developed by our industry and defines competence across our diverse workforce, not just for our new FESS apprenticeship. The FESS ECS scheme uniquely allows for an individual’s existing professionalism to be recognised and encourages upskilling, across the industry, measured against the new FESS Standard. Combined with the new Occupational Qualification Structure, this is a long overdue positive step towards raising the industry’s profile and its aspirations to meet the technology challenges of the future.”

Note to Editors

The JIB is an impartial organisation that sets the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry. Its work is targeted at improving the industry, its status and productivity. The JIB membership comprises over 650 SMEs as well as the UK's largest electrical contractors representing over 12,500 employees.

The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) is the sole ID and competence card scheme for electrotechnical operatives in the UK. Holding an ECS card proves qualification status, main electrical occupation, identity, health and safety awareness, as well as any additional disciplines in which the operative is skilled to work. The JIB administers the ECS scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and now has over 165,000 cardholders.

For further information, please contact Keystone Communications:

Russell Drury

Tel: 01733 294524

Email: [email protected]

Tracey Rushton-Thorpe

Tel: 01733 294524

Email: [email protected]