Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants



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Lawrence Webster Forrest
Legion House
Lower Road
Kenley
Surrey
CR8 5NH

Tel: +44 (0)20 8668 8663 Fax: +44 (0)20 8668 8583
E-mail: fire@lwf.co.uk

Fire Safety Management Audits

With much emphasis placed on physical fire safety precautions, it must be ensured that adequate management systems are also in place.  As with all safety systems and even day to day operating systems, failures in management will inevitably cause a breakdown of the system.  For fire safety to be effective all components must work in synergy.  Management has always been a component and recent legislative changes have acknowledged this.  For this reason, the effective management of fire safety must be assessed and where necessary, validated.  Deficiencies within the management system can often be easily rectified; this ensures the true value of the physical fire safety precautions.

Fire safety management will often increase in difficulty with the size / complexity of the building / organisation.  A smaller organisation may utilise a single point of contact for fire safety management, with larger organisations taking on a wide range of personnel over relevant fields, such as Health & Safety advisors, department managers etc.

Audits

A fire safety management audit is the same as any other audit, i.e. is the evaluation of a process / organisation.  Auditing is most commonly referred to in terms of financial accounting; however, this tool is also used across numerous management systems.  In terms of fire safety, the process can also perform a ‘gap analysis’ function, whereby the existing management system / structure is ‘measured’ against the benchmark standard, for example BS 9999.  The audit will generate areas for attention; from this an action plan can be generated.

Audit Findings

LWF have been responsible for undertaking a number of fire safety audits, with the following common deficiencies identified:

• Inadequate accountability – whereby organisations had failed to appropriately determine those persons responsible for fire safety.
• Inadequate communication – organisations had not ensured that all relevant persons were appropriately engaged, this commonly has two outcomes, a duplication of requirements / a lack of understanding of responsibilities, leading to fire safety requirements being overlooked.
• Inefficiency – this often occurs within large organisations, where different sections of an organisation operate their own policy.

The three common examples above highlight some important issues.  These examples found that organisations were in some instances failing to meet their legislative duties, while all fire doors may be in good order and fire extinguishers tested, the regulations clearly state that management systems also form part of the overall package.  On a number of scenarios, the fire precautions that are visible have been present and correct; however, other fundamental issues, for example, the evacuation strategy relating to persons with mobility impairments may be insufficient.  Unfortunately, when the management system fails, this is usually only identified in emergency conditions, which is obviously too late.

The examples above also indicate that audits can provide savings.  Organisations are often very focussed on ensuring they apply best practice when achieving value for money with physical items, but fail to achieve the same efficiencies with management systems.  Repetition of work is commonly identified within fire safety audits and is often un-realised by the ‘offending’ parties until the audit process questions this action.  In this respect, auditing can bring significant financial gain, as the management process can become more streamlined.

Undertaking a management review is likely to be a cost effective measure when a full, physical site survey is not required.  Experience indicates that when the management system in place is adequate, the majority of other precautions fall into place, such analogies are prevalent through many working operations, “failing to plan, is planning to fail,” experience indicates that fire safety follows this also.

If you would like to know more – or would like to arrange an appointment with one of our senior fire safety advisers – simply call Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.

 

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FIRE SAFETY BLOGS

  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting & External Water Supplies - Part 24

    In LWF’s fire engineering blog series for Architects and other professionals involved in building design, we have been looking at firefighting and, most recently, the provisions that should be made for the Fire Service to attend and put out a fire. In part 23, we looked at the requirements and recommendations relating to the provision of fire hydrants and we continue from that point in part 24.The original standards for the installation of water...

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  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Access & Facilities for the Fire Service - Part 58

    In LWFs blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 57 of this series, LWF looked at what access and facilities must be provided for the Fire Service attending a fire at a healthcare venue. In part 58, we will continue from that point by looking at the number and location of fire-fighting shafts required in those healthcare...

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    In LWF’s blog series for those professionals who work in facilities management or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at property protection and the role of the insurer. In part 4, some of the history that led to property insurance from fire was given and in part 5, we will continue looking at how different the early insurers could be from what we know today.While the...

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  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting & External Water Supplies - Part 23

    In LWFs fire engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at the subject of firefighting. In part 22, we gave information on some of the regulations and guidance documents which deal with the issue of provision of fire hydrants. In part 23, we continue from that point by looking at who should provide them and where they should be placed in relation to the building.

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  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Access & Facilities for the Fire Service - Part 57

    In LWFs blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 56 of this series, LWF spent time looking at the access required by Fire and Rescue Service vehicles to healthcare buildings not fitted with fire mains. In part 57, LWF will continue looking at those measures which should be taken to ensure the Fire Service has access to...

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Case Studies

The Wohl Neuroscience Institute - Fire Safety, Strategy & Engineering
Key Facts: Client: King’s Clinical Neuroscience Institute Project Manager: MACE Ltd Designers: Devereux Architects/Allies and Morrison Approximate Size: 7,400m2 Description of the Project:...

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General Bulletins

Fire - The External Risk
When we consider fire safety, our focus is normally from within, what can we do to prevent the occurrence of fire and how we can limit its damage.  Whilst this is the correct stance to take, we m...

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Technical Bulletins

Evacuation Modelling - Factor in Human Behaviour
Evacuation of buildings can be analyzed in different ways. Approved Document B (ADB) which provides guidance on meeting the requirements of the England and Wales Building Regulations with regard to fi...

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