If you splice into a vehicle’s electronics and you get it wrong, people die. Thankfully, there’s no need to get it wrong.
Spend five minutes in the company of professional fitters who spend their lives installing radios, tracker units, cameras and reversing sensors into vehicles, and you’ll hear the horror stories. The hands-free microphones they found installed in front of airbags; the dangling cables snagging the foot pedals; the mystery dashboard rattles that were caused by equipment being just shoved back into the space behind the glovebox and left unsecured when the vehicle was handed back.
All these issues and risks are covered by FCS1362:2016 – the industry code of practice for the installation of radio frequency equipment in motor vehicles. Everything from the moment of receiving the vehicle in good order from the customer to handing it back and demonstrating the equipment at the end of a successful install is covered by the code.
FCS1362 provides a working reference document for every element of installation procedure. A fact which is 'nice to have' for members of the public, but of crucial importance for vehicle professionals who need to demonstrate due diligence in procurement best practice, and a duty of care to their drivers and employees. Which is why FCS1362 forms the core of the National Association of Police Fleet Managers' best practice guidance to blue-light fleet garages. And why FCS1362 is specified for all radio-frequency vehicle modifications in the Crown Commercial Service's current RM956 public sector vehicle modification framework.
The ability to work to FCS1362 is therefore a precious commodity. So how do you know an installer is actually qualified to do so?
FITAS – the FCS Installer Training and Accreditation Scheme -- is an independent verification of individual installers’ ability to work to the Code. The programme combines formal course work and examinations authored by acknowledged industry experts with a strict independent audit of real workshop practice.
FITAS accreditation is personal to the individual installer, and must be renewed every three years as part of a continuous professional development cycle. This ensures installers are always up to date with the latest revisions to the Code, as well as encouraging them to develop their skills into specialist areas like equipping emergency vehicles or installing intrinsically-safe comms on to petrol tankers.
The exacting procedures required for FITAS compliance mean FITAS-accredited installers automatically qualify for the government’s new ‘digital tick’ endorsement of their ability to install in-vehicle digital radio upgrades, ahead of the deadline for switching off analogue radio broadcasting.
FCS’s work in maintaining and developing the FCS1362 standard and the FITAS scheme is carried out by members of the FCS Vehicle Installer group.