A1 Flues
A1 Flues


A1's CE Mark warning in H&V News

An article about a lack of industry awareness of the new CE Mark by our director John Hamnett has been published in the latest edition of H&V News. Below is a full transcript of the article.

John Hamnett from A1 Flue Systems has found that there is a worrying lack of industry awareness about the CE Mark – despite it becoming mandatory on 1st July 2013.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I went to see a respected construction company in Lancashire and its architects and specifiers said they didn’t know that the CE Mark came into force in July 2013.

It became a mandatory requirement for manufacturers to apply CE Marking to products such as flues, stoves, radiators, fans and other HVAC products. But it isn’t just our industry that has to comply with the CE Mark, as it has wide-reaching implications for construction and manufacturing.

Our business has been working towards it since 2010, and it has cost us the thick end of £60,000 to get our products tested and ready for the introduction of the standard, which is a Europe-wide mandatory benchmark of quality not just for finished products but for the whole manufacturing process. And the £60,000 doesn’t include all the man hours we’ve put into it!

So how could the firm in Lancashire not know?  Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident – far from it. In the first few months after the CE Mark came into force, our sales guys and the team in our technical department were very proactive in bringing it into the conversation, as we’re rightly proud that we achieved it from day one.

But then the penny started to drop that none of the people we were talking to ever made the first move in mentioning the CE Mark. In the six months since the CE Mark came into force, we’ve had in excess of 600 requests for specifications on projects that require a range of industrial flue and chimney systems – some of which are for very prestigious projects. Everyone has asked for insurance details and other relevant paperwork, but not one of these has asked about CE Marking paperwork. Not one.

Maybe the lack of awareness can be explained by the “it’ll never happen” attitude that can often prevail not just in our industry but also in the wider manufacturing and construction industries. We’ve been browbeaten over the years by onerous amounts of paperwork and red tape, and yet another European directive has been treated as more ‘barmy bureaucracy’ imposed on British industry by Europe. Whatever your perspective, the CE Mark is mandatory, not a choice.

Media such as H&V News have covered the CE Mark extensively, so the finger can’t be pointed at industry media for not doing its bit in raising awareness of the new accreditation.

Instead of playing the blame game, where do we go from here?

I’m a firm believer that robust policing is the answer. At the heart of the “it’ll never happen” attitude is apathy towards ‘toothless’ regulation. But if the governors of CE Marking started to police the accreditation actively and make a few examples of companies that either weren’t aware of it or have flouted the regulations, then news of this would spread like wildfire. 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see any business get into real bother because they have fallen foul of CE Marking, but, at the same time, our industry needs an almighty wake-up call, as it’s here to stay.