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 Prevention, through Fire Risk Assessment

The terms Fire Prevention and Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) are not always used synonymously, however, by their very nature, they should be.  Fire prevention is the generic term given to any measure(s) which serve to avert a fire from occurring, or those means by which fire is detected, or limit its progress.  Whilst strictly speaking, systems such as fire alarm / sprinkler systems do not prevent fires, they do help to prevent the spread / consequences of fire and as such are embraced into this global term.

Similarly, FRA’s generate risk levels within a given area, where those risk levels are deemed to be too high, risk reduction measures, to bring the residual risk level into tolerable limits are introduced.  Those risk reduction measures will generally take the form of ‘Fire Prevention’, particularly when the term is used in a more ‘global’ sense.

On this basis, we should be adopting the FRA basis as a fire prevention tool.  FRA’s should undertake the following five step process, with the vast majority of outcomes / recommendation of the FRA being fire prevention measures.

Fire Risk Assessment Process

  1. Identify the hazards
  2.  Identify those at risk
  3.  Evaluate and Act
  4.  Record, Plan and Train
  5.  Review

 In the most common instances, it is clear that there will be fire hazards, as ignition sources and combustible material are part of the fabric of any building / process.  Similarly, there will almost always be people at risk.  We must then evaluate the risk posed to persons and determine if the measures in place ensure an adequate level of life safety.  As an example, the potential risk of fire is seen in most instances, on this basis, factors such as the means of escape (should a fire occur) must be assessed.  If we consider a fire will start, we must then assess if occupants will be able to escape safely?  The answer to this will be solely dependant on the fire prevention measures currently installed.  If the answer is yes, the maintenance of these systems / building features must be achieved.  Should the answer be no, it is likely that the only realistic way to ensure the residual risk is tolerable is to increase the fire prevention measures.

This relationship must be understood and respected to ensure a continued level of life safety is achieved for all occupants.  Achieving a tolerable level of risk within a FRA then places a reliance on those fire prevention measures considered in the assessment, failure to achieve a tolerable level will place requirements on additional measures.  With this borne in mind, FRA’s should be clearly indicating the features that are relied upon to achieve life safety.  This transparent approach assists those managing a building and those enforcing Fire Safety Legislation.  Advantages will also be seen when the FRA is reviewed as the factors that have enabled decisions to be made can themselves be readily re-evaluated.

Due to its very nature, the risk of fire will always be present, through continued assessment, introduction / maintenance of fire prevention measures, the risk posed can be appropriately controlled. 

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 risk assessment and fire prevention requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FIRE SAFETY BLOGS

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