BIRFA a New Voice for Reinforcing Steel Fabricators
The British Independent Reinforcement Fabricators Association (BIRFA) is a new organisation, set up to represent the views of the reinforcement fabricators within the UK who are not owned by, or tied to, a steel producer. Its aim is to provide a voice to those companies who supply reinforcing products to the British construction industry, free from tie to a particular commercial interest or process route. All of our members are fully independent and can offer the construction industry products and services which are not sourced from a single manufacturer, but are nevertheless fully certified and approved. The Association is representative of a range of manufacturers rather than one, all of whom play an integral part in the wider UK Steel industry and are committed to supporting the UK construction industry.
All members of the Association must hold a valid CARES certificate for the supply of reinforcement products and must commit to support CARES through its operations and standards. The Association has applied to become a member of CARES with a view to having a presence on its strategic planning committee, where industry standards are developed and influenced. In addition to this, the association is applying to join the BSI technical committee which is responsible for reinforcing steels, in order to influence the development of the relevant British Standards which govern our industry. These standards are in place to ensure that we provide the best possible products and services to the British construction industry.
Industry sources estimate that the construction industry will consume around 1 million tonnes of reinforcing steel in the UK this year. Around 50% of this is supplied by the sole UK reinforcing steel mill, largely through its tied fabricators. The balance is supplied by the vibrant independent sector, who can source through a range of fully approved offshore mills. UK construction needs a strong independent sector.
The independent reinforcement fabricators employ over 3000 people through a range of companies from small to large. These fabricators have made large investments in new facilities, machinery and technology advancements to help improve our services and supply to the construction industry.
Until 2015 many of the current BIRFA members were members of BAR (British Association of Reinforcement). Because BAR was heavily influenced by a single commercial organisation, many of its activities did not represent or support the independent members views. The independent members of BAR therefore decided to leave that association and set up BIRFA, along with other independent fabricators, to give them a better voice to provide relevant information to the construction industry, free from the influence of mills or importers.
The products our members supply are produced to the highest standards and the health and safety of our workforce and our customers are held in the highest regard. Some of our members have already been CARES approved under the SCS Sustainable Supply Scheme which has an equivalent BES6001 approval and source materials and run their businesses in a sustainable manner.
The Association, through its members, is able to provide a broader, collective view of reinforcement which reflects the needs of the construction industry. By working closely with both CARES and BSI we will provide a continually improving service to our customers.
Andy Kirkcaldy Chairman