Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below some frequently asked questions which are designed to help you understand how to make best use of our framework agreements:

Q1. What is a framework agreement?

It is an agreement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more economic operators which establishes the terms under which the economic operator will enter into one or more contracts with a contracting authority in the period during which the framework agreement applies.

Q2. What element of choice is available when using the framework agreements?

A framework will typically have a range of suppliers who are able to service either one or more of the available lots.

Q3. Am I eligible to use the frameworks?

The public bodies that are able to access the frameworks will be listed in the OJEU notice. These include (but are not limited to) UK Fire and Rescue Services, MoD, NHS bodies, Local Authorities, Police Authorities, Educational Establishments, Utilities and Registered Charities so please check you are eligible to use the framework prior to placing an order. If you are uncertain of your eligibility, please contact us on 0845 3307765 or email

Q4. What are the benefits of using a framework?

Our frameworks ensure that you remain fully compliant with EU purchasing guidelines whilst saving time and money. We work closely with both suppliers and procurement officers to ensure that our frameworks offer purchasing bodies a solution to their procurement needs whilst ensuring that they have access to market leading technology.

Q5. How do I use the framework?

The purchasers' area of The Consortium Fire and Rescue's website contains the necessary forms and guidance on how to use the frameworks. Users of frameworks are referred to as purchasing bodies that can award 'call-off' contracts against the framework; the process of 'calling-off' may include undertaking a mini competition. The Consortium Fire and Rescue offers advice and support to any purchasing body wishing to use a framework.

Q6. What is the benefit of The Consortium helping us with our mini competition?

With over 40 years of procurement experience, The Consortium can assist you with your mini-competition to ensure you are fully compliant throughout the process.

By using The Consortium to aid you with your mini competition you can save invaluable time and resource whilst ensuring that your procurement requirements are met in the most efficient way, all at no additional cost.

Whether you simply require some advice or guidance for your mini competition or would like The Consortium to facilitate your mini competition on your behalf, please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can assist you.

Q7. When would I do a 'call-off' against the framework without a mini competition?

The Consortium Fire and Rescue recommends that you always carry out a mini competition although in some circumstances purchasing bodies may be able to justify purchasing direct from the framework agreement.

When using the framework without a mini competition goods can be called off using the terms agreed when the framework itself was first established.

Q8. When would I do a 'call-off' against the framework with a mini competition?

The Consortium Fire and Rescue recommends that you always carry out a mini competition. This ensures that best value for money is achieved on purchases and that the solution meets the purchasing body's specific requirements.

Q9. What documentation is required to invite suppliers to participate in the mini competition and where will I find it?

Each of the buyers' guides contains a template for completion by the purchasing body. Buyers' guides may be requested from the purchasers' area of The Consortium Fire and Rescue's website.

Q10. Can I use a different template?

Yes, although it is advisable to use The Consortium Fire and Rescue’s template.

Q11. Do I need to set up separate terms and conditions?

No - all the terms and conditions have been set out in the framework agreement.

Q12. Is it necessary to conduct trials as part of a mini competition?

Some of the frameworks have had product trials undertaken as part of the evaluation process. For other frameworks, it has been assumed that purchasing bodies will be trialling the equipment prior to placing an order to ensure it meets their individual requirements.

By following this process it allows us to include the most up-to-date products on the framework, without having to undertake lengthy trials, which most likely will be repeated at mini-competition stage.

If you are unsure as to whether product trials have been completed, please contact us for further information.

Q13. Can I ask the suppliers to provide samples of equipment for viewing and evaluation?

You can ask suppliers to provide a sample set of equipment to view and evaluate e.g. to test compatibility with other equipment.

Q14. Who do I need to notify of the outcome of the mini competition?

The suppliers should be notified and de-briefed on their own bid. In addition to suppliers you should notify The Consortium Fire and Rescue (before and after a mini competition) so that we are aware of the overall position regarding use of the framework.

Q15. When can the order be placed?

As soon as the call off contract (either with or without a mini competition) is signed by both the contracting authority and supplier. All purchase orders should quote our framework reference number. If you do not quote the framework number on the order then you will not be protected by the terms and conditions of the framework, and the purchase may be viewed as non-compliant.

Q16. Can upgraded and new products be added to the framework?

Yes - the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 do allow the upgrading of products on a framework agreement provided these are within the scope and specification of the original tender competition. New products may be subject to trials at the suppliers' expense. The outcome of the trials will be used to determine if the product is added to the framework.


For help in relation to using frameworks and mini competitions or any further information, please contact