Certifying sprinkler systems: Poland merits particular attention
The quality of sprinkler systems varies widely in Europe. This is largely due to the many different ways of standardisation, certification and inspection. For instance, in Poland there is no official requirement for certification of installations and inspections, but there is a strong expectation within the community that something has to change about this in the long term. An experts’ meeting held at the Dutch embassy may be a source of inspiration.
Calls are being made in Poland to increase the quality of sprinkler systems and to guarantee this through a form of certification. The experts’ meeting was held on 22 June at the Dutch Embassy in Warsaw to investigate the options in this field.
Experts at the meeting hosted by the embassy include Willem van Oppen from CCV Nederland, who presented certification practices in the Netherlands. CCV Nederland develops and administers certification and inspection schemes as an expert and independent party for sprinkler systems among other things.
Van Oppen outlined the possibilities and benefits that a certification system offers for the quality of sprinkler systems in buildings to an audience of manufacturers, fitters, insurers, government representatives and risk management professionals.
Polish Fire Extinguishing Systems Foundation
The meeting was supported by Riskonet Poland and the Polish Fire Extinguishing Systems Foundation. Leszek Golachowski, Senior Risk Consultant, believes that the meeting was a source of inspiration for the development of sprinkler systems certification in Poland. “There have been talks about the possibility of setting up such a system in Poland for a long time. One of the ideas is to launch a Polish chapter of the EFSN, the European Fire Sprinkler Network, that would be able to support the improvement in the quality of fire suppression installations in Poland e.g. by promoting a correct application of relevant sprinkler standards for Poland”.
Raising the bar in Poland
Golachowski is in no doubt about the benefits of quality standards and certification. “Everyone sees the current problems with sprinkler systems, which include the fact that the absence of compulsory certification means there is no certainty either about the quality of sprinkler systems on the market. Everyone also sees the need to raise the bar in Poland in this field. This will allow installers and suppliers providing quality solutions the chance to stand out. However, it will ultimately give building owners the certainty that their properties are indeed properly protected against the risks of fire.”
Clarity about requirements
Setting up a certification system provides clarity on the requirements that sprinkler systems fulfil to the parties involved, such as a owners, developers, builders and insurers. “As risk management experts at Riskonet we see the benefits of this approach in various countries. The approach taken in the Netherlands, which the certified expert Willem van Oppen talked about, may serve as an example and a source of inspiration. Although every element cannot be copied, it certainly serves as a source of inspiration for a Polish solution.”
CCV and certification – an example for Poland?
How does the Centre for Security and Safety (CCV) work in the Netherlands on safety through certification? A look at CCV’s website makes this very clear: “Many companies are the victim of criminality and fire, even though they have invested in preventive measures. Choosing certification can prevent unnecessary distress. The purchaser recognises a certified company by the accompanying quality mark. After delivery, it receives a certificate as proof of quality.”
“An independent certification body verifies whether the quality agreed under the certification scheme is being delivered by using spot checks. It also looks at how the supplier handles complaints, document management and reports. If these do not meet the agreed standards, then a sanction is imposed and the company may lose its certificate. Nevertheless, if a purchaser is dissatisfied with the preventive measures provided, it can file a complaint and have it investigated by the independent certification body. So, certification gives the purchaser certainty about quality. It also enables the purchaser to know for sure that its interests are being promoted independently.”
“Certification is a powerful way for both purchasers and suppliers to stand out in an opaque, commercial market. It avoids distress, unnecessary investments and strengthens the long-term relationship between purchasers and suppliers.”