In 2009 CSA Group acquired Sira Certification Service, the EU Notified Body for ATEX approvals, IECEx Certification Body and MCERTS Certification Body.
What’s in a Name?
The Story of Sira and CSA Group
The Beginnings – A Potted History
Sira was actually established as a research organisation and was not involved in certification activities until the 1980s.
It was founded in 1918 by nine members from the British Optical Industry, following an earlier movement from the UK Government to encourage scientific research for industrial purposes. World War I had highlighted the fact that national security was reliant on the speed and certainty with which new materials, processes and methods could be brought into use by manufacturers. Sira (or ‘BSIRA’ – British Scientific Instrument Research Association to give the full name) was the second such organisation to receive a licence from the Government.
It was primarily a membership movement, and whilst optics was its foundation, over the years it reached across many other scientific research areas. By 1960, the company had evolved into a group of British engineering companies that designed test and calibration equipment, with a focus on evaluation of process control instrumentation.
Twenty years later – 1982 to be exact – Sira opened an office in Cheshire, specifically designed to test and assess equipment used in hazardous locations. This came about after staff left the nearby ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) plant to set up a ‘hazardous area’ lab.
During the 1980s and 1990s Sira operated from two main offices – Chislehurst, Kent (home to various research and development projects and technologies) and Saighton, Chester (for ‘Ex’ product testing).
In 1992 Sira became the first UKAS-accredited Notified Body in the UK, and in 1999 was invited to be an IECEx Certification body and test lab (1 of only 4 at the time). During this time Sira moved offices to Eccleston, Chester (a renovated farm building that many of our clients may remember!).
Sira was a key driver of the ATEX and IECEx certification movement, and is still today the leading provider in these schemes.
In 2006, the hazardous area, environmental and calibration services of Sira were acquired by Volvere plc, resulting in the closure of Chislehurst and the disbandment of research and development activities. In 2009, Sira was acquired by CSA International.
CSA Group – The Last 96 Years (in brief!)
Coincidentally, CSA was established around the same time as Sira – in 1919 by Sir John Kennedy who was concerned about the state of safety standards for the Canadian railway industry. The first CSA standard – Specification for Steel Railway Bridges – was published in 1920.
Over the next half century CSA created the Canadian Electrical Code, set up an approvals division (which still exists today, the result of which is the CSA mark seen on billions of products around the world) and re-structured a number of times, each time expanding and growing its number of standards, staff and offices in Canada.
By the late 1990s CSA’s reach was global, with offices in U.S, India, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to complement its 18 Canadian offices. By now the company was known as ‘CSA International’. In 2009, CSA acquired UK-based Sira, as part of its strategic intent to establish a presence in Europe.
2009 to 2015 – The Integration Years
Newly acquired Sira began to slowly integrate into CSA’s operations and began dual branding CSA and Sira brands as part of this transition. By 2013, the UK site had gained both OSHA and SCC recognition, which allowed a CSA certificate (US and Canada) for equipment used in hazardous locations to be issued from the UK without needing to involve another CSA office.
This recognition, in addition to Sira’s ATEX and IECEx accreditations, means the UK facility can independently offer all 3 certification marks – the only office in the world to do so!
May 2015 – A New Chapter
In May 2015 CSA-Sira left its offices in Chester and moved into a custom built facility across the border in Hawarden, North Wales. Our home is now a modern industrial park filled with engineering-led businesses such as Airbus, Toyota and Alcontrol.
We held our grand opening shortly after moving in and at the same time merged with another CSA-UK company in Leyland, and formed a new legal entity “CSA Group Testing UK Ltd”.
‘Sira’ still exists however. Our Notified Body status, IECEx CB and ExTL appointments and MCERTS accreditation are held under Sira Certification Service, and we still issue Sira certificates allowing clients to continue to use Sira certificate references and Sira marks on their products.