Warringtonfire Australia has launched a new independent third-party certification scheme, Certifire AU that will provide manufacturers of fire-protection products and systems the opportunity to differentiate themselves from non-certified equivalents and provide long-term confidence to specifiers and end users.
The original Certifire third-party certification scheme was introduced by Warringtonfire over 20 years ago and today is widely recognized and accepted in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
The new Australian version of the scheme, is expected to be fully accredited in the next few months and its introduction will provide the increasing number of product manufacturers who are seeking to both test and certify their products with the ability to have this delivered by a single industry-leading provider. It will also complement Warringtonfire Australia’s current fire testing, fire-safety engineering and assessment consultancy services.
Certifire AU is an independent certification scheme that assures performance, quality, reliability and traceability of passive fire-protection products in the marketplace. The fundamental benefit of certification is that it gives the regulator, specifier, customer and end user long-term confidence in the stated performance of the product and provides an informed choice when purchasing or selecting the product for end use.
What is passive fire product certification?
Passive fire product certification is the process of certifying that a product has passed fire-performance and quality-assurance tests and meets further qualification criteria stipulated under the certification scheme. The requirement for testing is in accordance with AS 1530.4, or a product assessed in accordance with AS 1530.4 based on fire-resistance testing. An important part of the certification scheme is the ongoing auditing, which ensures that the product is consistently produced to the exact same specification as the original product that was tested.
Product certification bodies are accredited to or aligned with ‘ISO/IEC 17065 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services’, which is an international standard for ensuring competence in those organizations performing product, process and service certifications.
Certification schemes are typically written to include both the performance test methods that the product must be tested to, as well as the criteria that the product must meet to achieve and maintain certification.
The need for passive fire product certification in Australia
Presently, passive fire product manufacturers in Australia carry out fire-resistance testing in accordance with the relevant Australian standard and then proceed to manufacture and sell that product based on the performance achieved in a single test. There is no need for further testing or checks of that product, or the manufacturing process for the lifetime of the product.
The issue with this is that it can lead to variability in the ongoing consistency of the quality of the mass-produced product, compared to that submitted for the original fire-resistance test. Manufacturers can continue to use test data for the lifetime of that product, regardless of time. Even if there is no intentional change to the manufacturing process of a particular product, over time there will be changes in equipment, staff, experience, source of raw materials, etc. Each of these areas can have an impact on the quality and composition of the product that is produced, which in turn could affect its performance.
Product certification also provides an avenue for compliance with Volumes One and Two of the National Construction Code (NCC), by satisfying the evidence of suitability requirements as defined in the Building Code of Australia (BCA). This in turn gives the regulator, specifier, customer and end user long-term confidence in the stated performance of the certified product.
The Warringtonfire Certifire AU scheme
The scheme includes the following main areas:
1. Evaluation – Analysis of submitted test/assessment data and a product appraisal/evaluation in line with the relevant documentation. The outcome of the evaluation will be a clearly defined scope of approval/certification for the product, which will be used as a basis for the information to be included within the certificate/approval.
2. Factory Production Control (FPC) audits – Passive fire product manufacturers will be required to undergo an FPC audit for each product where certification is sought. A Warringtonfire representative will visit the site where the product being evaluated is manufactured and will carry out an FPC audit in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9001.
3. Sampling – During the FPC audit, sampling of the product being certified will be undertaken by the auditor, for the purpose of carrying out fire-resistance testing at an accredited laboratory. This step is either for initial certification of a product, or for ongoing requirements as outlined in point 6.
4. Production and registration of certificate – Preparation of relevant product certificate(s) based on positive evaluation of supporting data/tests and FPC audit. Certificates will be uploaded to the Warringtonfire Certifire AU product register. There will also be the promotion of product certification through Warringtonfire.
5. Surveillance audit – This audit will occur every 12 months to ensure that the factory production control systems continue to meet the qualification criteria.
6. Ongoing requirements – A review of the product will occur every five years, at which time re-testing of the product is required to ensure that the product being produced for the marketplace continues to meet the qualification criteria.
To find out more about how the new Warringtonfire Certifire AU scheme can help your business, please contact Chad McLean on 0400 059 930.
For more information, email [email protected]