On 24th November, we sent our second letter jointly with BSIA to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [BEIS] relaying our respective industry’s concerns on the impact of the implementation of the new UKCA mark. In late December, we received a response from Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which can be seen at the bottom.
In our letter (click here to read), we requested that ‘should a reciprocal agreement not be acceptable, the specified 12 months’ timeline be extended to a minimum of 36 months to allow sufficient time for manufacturers to prepare and apply the UKCA mark. Unfortunately, for our industry, the Government ignored this request on two separate occasions.
We believe exceptions should be made for fire and security products given that exceptions have been granted for medical devices – as all are focussed on life safety. The resulting impacts that the UKCA regime can and will have on life safety systems are worrying. For instance, lack of spare parts to maintain current fire safety systems correctly could affect thousands of hospitals, schools and care homes to name but a few.
Government has stressed that ‘we cannot indefinitely accept EU certification and CE marked goods on the market in Great Britain on a non-reciprocal basis beyond the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020’ and accepts that ‘transitioning to the new UK regime will require planning and will result in some costs to businesses’. The FIA believes that these costs will be extensive and potentially damaging for a number of businesses and the practicality of transitioning to the UKCA regime for all fire safety products within the given 12-month period is unachievable.
They also indicate that ‘we see no reason that UK conformity assessment bodies cannot start conformity assessment procedures for the UK market before the end of the Transition Period in their current capacity as notified bodies and conclude it once they have become a UK approved body’.
They go on to say ‘the UK has proposed a comprehensive Mutual Recognition Agreement for the acceptance of results of conformity assessment across sectors’ although ‘this is of course still subject to ongoing negotiations’.
They conclude that ‘we will be working closely with businesses over the coming year to ensure guidance is clear and that businesses feel supported in transitioning to the new domestic arrangements’.
Through this unprecedented period, we will continue to represent the needs of the industry to government. It is imperative that the Government understands the impact that changing to the UKCA regime will have not only for businesses from the fire industry whose task it is to keep buildings safe; but also for the thousands of business owners that rely on their buildings being compliant so that they can remain open.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Fire Buyer
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922