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Fire Safety Housekeeping & Management
Housekeeping, to many people, may refer to activities such as domestic chores. However, in the world of fire safety, it is a term frequently used to describe a vast range of issues that are often deficient and can have adverse effects on the residual risk posed by fire.
Management will have a significant impact over the housekeeping issues that arise. In construction, the phrase “a tidy site, is a safe site” is often used and whilst this is not strictly true, the essence of the saying is. The key to this is good management, those who can manage the simple activities, such as general tidiness, often follow the same organisational principles throughout their work processes.
Management of fire safety is paramount. If the management system is poor, common deficiencies are frequently highlighted. These include, inaccurate and/or incomplete documentation / records, this in turn often lead to fire safety systems etc not being tested appropriately, therefore increasing the likelihood of fire / consequences of fire.
Simple management tools can be used, such as a traditional ‘fire safety log book’, this single provision can ensure all relevant information is stored in one place, planned maintenance, fire drills etc can all be recorded there as well as recording activities that have been undertaken.
Where the management system fails, this can be highlighted in a number of ways. A vast range of issues have arisen over numerous surveys, however, below are the most common issues identified:
• Inadequate testing / maintenance of fire safety systems
• Excessive fire loading within given areas
• Means of escape routes blocked / locked / impeded
• Significant risk of fire caused by combining ignition sources / combustible materials
• Furnishings presenting a greater risk due to damage
• Inappropriate storage
• Inadequate controls over flammable materials
• Lack of controls over external personnel, e.g. contractors undertaking works
• Overloading of electrical systems
• Poor cable management (leading to damaged flex cords)
• Inappropriate potential arson assessment
This list is not considered to be exhaustive, however, does provide some insight into typical housekeeping issues that are observed. These examples should demonstrate that housekeeping is more than keeping your desk tidy.
The consequences of all the examples given and for all fire safety housekeeping issues is that the risk of a fire is greater. This can be due to the likelihood of fire occurring being greater, for example by introducing additional ignition risks to an environment, or by making the consequences of fire worse, perhaps by increasing the fire loading within an area.
We must all give fire safety housekeeping the respect it deserves, whilst it is deemed to be at the ‘simple end’ of the spectrum, if we fail to get this right, we are likely to fail in all areas. There is little point in installing complex fire detection systems to protect a building (in the event a fire might start) if we overlook the issues that could cause a fire to start in the first place. Whilst this bulletin would never suggest lessening protection systems, these system are often measures used to detect fire / prevent its spread, many housekeeping issues are in place as a fire prevention measure. If we can achieve prevention, we achieve success.
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
We very much look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your fire safety compliance requirements.