Invest in your most valuable asset – the engineer

Managing a team of service engineers and keeping on top of customer requirements can be a hectic and somewhat challenging role.  As in all industries, the focus is often more on the growth of the business in terms of customer retention and new business meaning that topics such as staff training often drop down the ‘to-do’ list.

The value of training should not be underestimated. As a manager (in charge of service), you no doubt want to be sure  your team of engineers keep their knowledge up-to-date with regards to changes to standards; the law; best practices and product knowledge.  To achieve this means allocating time and money to invest in your most valuable assets – the (fire) engineer.
There are several reasons why you should make sure that training for your engineers is not overlooked and forgotten about.

Standards

In the UK, BS5839 Part 1 was last updated in 2013 with a number of important amendments, including changes in the definition of the Competent Person (fire engineer).  ‘necessary training’ was replaced by ‘relevant and current training’ inferring that training is an on-going commitment and never ending which is very much in the vein of CPD (Continuing Professional Development).

CPD (Continuing Professional Development )

CPD obligations are common to many parallel professions and we are now increasingly seeing a number of CPD certified training courses available to the fire industry.  What is required is  more companies that provide services in regards to the design; installation; commissioning and maintenance of fire systems need to sign up and commit to CPD, so that they can demonstrate the professionalism (that is associated with CPD) to their clients.    So, give that idea some thought.  This is one way to take the initiative and stand out from the competition .

Product Training

Many manufacturers (of fire products) offer training courses which are generally free of charge, which is an excellent (and cost effective) way to keep product knowledge ‘current and relevant’.  It is worth checking the manufacturers’ websites, to see what form the training can take. Scheduled courses are usually available and sometimes, if you have enough engineers to train you may find the manufacturers trainer willing to come to you and either run a standard or custom training course for your needs, again often at no charge.  In some cases training is available in an online format which can be easier to fit into your busy work schedule and limits disruption to work schedules.

Attending manufacturers’ product training courses means that your service engineers will have more confidence working with the various detectors, panels, sounders, beacons and test equipment they come across on a daily basis.  This will enable them to continue to deliver the best possible service to  your clients and also demonstrate compliance in line with standards.

Training on standards

Although manufacturers product training courses frequently cover standards and sometimes the law as part of their product training and some are CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certified, accredited training on fire standards (BS5839) and law – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 should be obtained from a recognised third party endorsed training provider that has qualified trainers. Most trade associations that cover fire have some form of accredited training on offer that covers the standards and law in regard to the core tasks of design; installation; commissioning and maintaining a fire detection system.

Health and Safety training

The Health and Safety at Work etc  Act 1974 requires that an employer provides whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of its employees. your service engineers.  (Further information is available from the HSE website – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg345.pdf,)

One operation that involves higher risk is when fire engineers are required to work at height – installing; commissioning or maintaining fire systems. (The UK Work at Height regulation of 2005 – http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/the-law.htm) Training on any form of height access equipment is often overlooked and that includes height access poles for test equipment.  As an employer, if you have not conformed to the requirements of The Work at Height Regulation of 2005, you may be exposed in the event of an accident.

Detectortesters (No Climb Products Ltd) provide a free of charge on-line training course on the ‘Safe use of Solo height access poles’.  The courses takes about 30-40 minutes, requires the engineer register and login to access the training material. At the end there is a short series of multiple choice question. Those successful will be awarded a certificate.

Anyone who would prefer traditional classroom presentation of the training material to their staff, just needs to contact us for further information.