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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Freephone: 0800 410 1130
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 & Internal Water Supplies - Part 32

    In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in the building design business, we have been looking at fire safety engineering and, most recently, firefighting. In part 31, we looked at the recommendations made regarding water capacity for any open water used for firefighting purposes and discussed relaying water to the place of fire origin. In part 32, we look at internal water supplies designed for the purpose of firefighting.Fire mains...

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    In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 65, LWF considered some of the many important elements when considering general fire safety in a healthcare building, including the provision of alternative escape routes and the potentially unpredictable nature of human behaviour in a fire situation. In part 66, we look at fire safety policies.Clearly-defined fire...

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  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting & External Water Supplies - Part 31

    In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others in the building design business, we have been looking at the subject of fire safety engineering and most recently, firefighting. In part 30, we considered additional external water supplies which may be used instead of hydrants. In part 31, we discuss capacities and water relay.

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  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Fire Safety Measures for Healthcare Buildings - Part 65

    In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 64, LWF discussed the threat to life, continued treatment and the loss of potentially expensive equipment if a fire was to occur and stated the fact that active and passive fire protection methods, as well as fire prevention must be of the utmost importance to healthcare venues. In...

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Case Studies

Duke of York, Victoria Street, London
The Duke of York is a busy pub in central London, used by commuters and theatre-goers alike.  In 2013, the pub was demolished in order to facilitate the London Underground Victoria Station Upgrad...

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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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