While there have been a raft of changes in both politics and the economy, the latest fire industry survey reveals the sector has remained stable
The latest fire industry survey has revealed a number of surprising market trends as well as a number of expected. The Fire Industry Association’s (FIA) Market Conditions Survey, Wave 8, provides an insight into the current movements in the industry nationwide.
The survey, which is carried out every six months, has shown that while there have been changes in the political landscape the market has remained relatively stable.
Wave 8 of the survey asked respondents how political changes such as the triggering of Article 50, the snap General Election and the fluctuating pound had impacted their business. Overall it was clear despite the uncertainty there was a period of relative stability in the market.
One of the major issues flagged in this survey was Brexit. While this revelation is unsurprising, given the political uncertainty the vote to leave the EU caused, it has led to prices increasing. Some 78 per cent of respondents said supplier costs have risen in the past six months alone. Furthermore, only 20 per cent said Brexit will have a negative impact, over 50 per cent said there would be no change, and the remaining 30 per cent said it would be positive.
Conversely, there seemed to be a period of growth, with almost 20 per cent of exporters reporting a small boom in the last six months since the October survey. This was substantially more than was seen in October 2016. Following the referendum only 1-2 per cent of businesses reported growth.
Orders saw a decline, with around 50 per cent reporting they have seen ‘slightly more’ orders in the last six months. This was less than the 56 per cent seen in the previous survey. However, this figure was still higher than seen in April 2016 and October 2015. During these periods it was around 45 per cent. Comparatively, the number of responders stating they saw ‘slightly less’ orders in this survey was up from seven per cent to around 15.
An issue that has persisted since the last survey is a shortage of skilled technicians. The problem was raised in October 2016 and has seen no sign of abating six months on.
One responder said there was “still a great concern over the skills levels of installers. Many installation companies are sub-contracting labour intensive work which is having a detrimental effect on system commissioning.”
Another warned: “Too many unqualified people giving bad advice or not completing work correctly at a lower cost resulting in us either losing work or having to reduce our charges meaning we can’t afford more training or more engineers.”
Training remained an important theme in this survey, with almost 70 per cent of employers willing to invest more time and money into technicians if it resulted in a nationally recognised qualification.
“People should have to be qualified to work in the fire industry so the advice given is compliant with current legislation,” commented a responder.
Training is certainly an area FIA have been championing lately. The association revealed four new qualifications that will focus on the main job roles within the fire detection and alarm sector. This includes Designers, Installers, Maintainers and Commissioners.
The qualifications were identified by FIA in conjunction with employers, recruiters, member organisations and learners. Each course is related to the four specific job roles and have been developed with this in mind.
Each course is equivalent to an A-Level or NVQ Level 3 and will award the learner with Level 3 on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) upon completion. Furthermore, the courses are also equivalent to the new Level 4 on the European Qualifications Framework. This is one level higher than specified in the newly released EN 16763 Standard for those working in the fire and security sector.