Exclusive: A new horizon for the ASFP


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IFSJ catches up with Steve Davies, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Specialist Fire Protectio

Associations are a vital part of many industries. From the rail, aviation, security, construction, or hospitality industries, they all utilise support given by associations in their respective fields. Whether it is providing training, advice on practice or helping companies to remain compliant with the latest regulations affecting them, the support they give helps keep whole sectors working. In the background of this are experts with the knowledge and experience to know what is needed for their members.  

Historically, associations have been at the centre of many important sectors, and its own importance has not only maintained, but it is also growing. In a world where rules and regulations can change at a pace due to technological advancements or political hurdles, continued support is essential, and this is no different for the fire safety sector. For those in the fire protection sector, the Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) brings together passive fire protection manufacturers, contractors, distributors and testing/certification bodies to encourage, develop and give guidance on essential standards in passive fire protection. The ASFP helps to increase the quality of installed fire protection within all forms of construction. To find out more about the associations ongoing relations with the industry, IFSJ caught up with Steve Davies, Chief Executive Officer of the Association.  

Technical experience 

When taking the role of CEO last year, taking over from former CEO Niall Rowan, Davies brought with him years of experience working with a number of trade associations. Since 2006 Davies has worked in membership organisations in various sectors, working in technical or engineering based industries from power generation and more recently his previous role as the CEO of the Lighting Industry Association (LIA). In terms of experience, the fire safety industry to Davies is relatively new. On this, he believes this has been one of the main challenges he has faced. He comments: “One of the challenges I have been faced with is getting to grips with the technical and political aspects of the sector. My appointment initially is about modernising and bringing the ASFP as a trade association forward and developing the services that they offer, whilst building my own technical expertise to be able to contribute at all levels.” 

He concludes: “I am very familiar with how to develop a trade association and how to make it a success and Niall has been very supportive during the handover process. He has helped me get around the table with other stakeholders to smooth the transition as much as possible. Going forward I think the main challenge for me will be making sure I am as technically competent as I possibly can be. I have made it a point to get involved with as many ASFP committees as possible, not only for my own education but also for my own interest as well. I want to be able to contribute to those discussions.” 

Times are changing

In terms of timing, Davies joins as there are a number of changes happening in the industry. Of course, this could be seen as a further complication, but the role of Passive Fire Protection and the ASFP is more critical than ever. ASFP needs stay on top of that change and shape the future of knowledge and education of the industry. Changes in attitude to passive fire protection measures have been in the pipeline for some time and there is real momentum in how the industry meets that change.

Davies comments: “I have joined, whether by design or by sheer luck at a time of huge change for the sector, not just passive fire but the construction sector as a whole. There has been lots of things that have happened prior to this that have been in the news and continue to be in the news but what that has driven is a huge appetite for people to know more about passive fire. We run a variety of Passive Fire Safety courses and the demand for them has significantly increased. Some of that is due to the pandemic with more people working from home who are trying to maintain their CPD but since people have returned that demand has continued to grow.  

He continues: “So, in looking backing at 2021 I have been trying to keep up with that demand and shape it to see what bits of education we might be missing so that we can fill those gaps.  There are lots of bodies that pass information around passive fire which is great. I hope to get the ASFP to the forefront of that in which we will be the first port of call and if we don’t offer what you’re looking for, we can point you in the right direction. I would say that is what we have spent most of 2021 doing, building that pathway of knowledge and education.” 


His appointment also marked a new dawn for the organisation in terms of forward thinking within itself. Towards the end of 2021 they decided to undergo a rebranding which has come off the back of new introductions to the ASFP team. Davies reveals what the rebranding means for the organisation in the long-term: “Last year we underwent a small rebranding exercise on the back of having a new team and new ideas to mark a change in the association.

“However, it was also to pre-empt that we have a new CRM platform that is due to go live in the next couple of months. That has the new platforms for information, whether they’re documentation, online courses or webinars. We have been really busy planning, but we are coming to the end of that process now. It was the start of a plan as to how we start to promote ourselves online. The rebrand gave us an opportunity to put a marker in the sand and say, from this point on a new logo, the way we present ourselves to be more structured and professional will show that we are changing. 

Improving competency 

As we usher in a new year, like so many of the companies it supports, the ASFP will be keen to ensure that the start is as seamless as possible, and with a structured plan in place that they have set out and key goals that they want to meet, it promises to be an interesting year for them. Part of these plans are to improve competency and networking. Davies comments on how this has resulted in what they are anticipating being a busy but productive year: “Our plans to develop competency in passive fire in the construction sector has been at the forefront of our activity as a whole. We budgeted this year to spend a lot of time developing a competency framework for passive fire.

“We already have an introduction course, Level 2 and 3 which is supported by the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE). What we have acknowledged is that we have a void between the online 3-4 hour course and then going up to the full five day level two course and then level three. We are filling that gap with various learning opportunities that will be CPD based .with specialist sections to suit the different parts of the construction sector from architects/designers through our typical audiences such as Contractor to facilities managers and landlords. 

He concludes: “We spent a lot of time in discussions at the end of last year, as COVID restrictions began to ease, about how we can create a wide-ranging networking calendar for the sector that gets us where we want to be. 2022 so far has been about what bodies we want to influence and how we wish to engage with them. We have a role here in not only an influencing and lobbying role but also one of bringing our members together from a networking and engagement perspective to learn from each other. You may have noticed an upturn in our marketing and social presence and that has been part of what we have been planning and developing for this year. 2022 will be a very busy year for us.”  

With regulations continuing to change the landscape for those in passive fire, it seems that it won’t just be this year that will be busy for the ASFP. Whilst a new CEO and a rebrand has set out a new era for the organisation, it is worth keeping a keen eye out for future developments that they will be mapping out.  

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