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



Navigation

Client login
Forgotten password
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Subscribe to our blog

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 - 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 must also identify and consider the risks from external sources. 

 

 In terms of 'external issues' for the purpose of this bulletin, we will group those as being considerations that are not in our direct control.  

 

Adjacency

 

As part of the Fire Risk Assessments we undertake, we should consider our neighbours.  It may be, that the nearest building is 50m and there is good separation, however, in the majority of instances this luxury is unlikely.  Where we have neighbouring properties, we need to consider the potential of fire spread from their building to ours as well as vice versa.  This is a complex issue, but a number of simple factors can be initially considered, with additional details reviewed as necessary.

 

The construction materials forming the external façade will be a key consideration.  If both buildings are formed of traditional masonry construction with no openings (windows / doors) the likelihood of fire spread is low.  The reverse is also true, if the façade is constructed of lightweight materials with numerous unprotected openings, likelihood of fire spread between the two is increased.  It may be the case that there is little you can do to change the risk posed from a neighbour, however alterations could be made to your own property in the name of risk reduction.

 

Staff

 

Staff could be considered an external factor, particularly if agency or unknown staff are used for specific duties, security personnel for example.  Appropriate background checks should be made on all staff including those employed by third parties.  In a fairly recent case, a security guard was prosecuted for arson (on a construction site) which demolished the structure causing £5.5 million of damage.  Whilst this scenario is rare, the potential consequences of such actions can be catastrophic.

 

Staff from within must also be considered, particularly where an event such as a disciplinary situation has arisen.  Firesetting by disgruntled employees is not unheard of.  

 

 Waste Management

 

Unfortunately, 'petty' or minor arson is not uncommon.  Persons setting fire to skips, refuse bins etc is often reported and in the majority of instances fire spread does not occur.  However, where waste is inappropriately stored, for example, directly adjacent to a building, an opportunistic arsonist may set fire to such material with no real intent of further damage, however, due to the lack of separation between an external risk and the building, fire spread can occur resulting in significant losses.

 

Temporary / New Risks

 

In some instances a new risk will be presented, for example a construction site.  The final design may encompass fire resisting walls where the new building is directly adjacent to existing construction, however, during the interim period, when the building is actually being constructed, there will be no protection.  This should be dealt with by the construction site, however, there may be measures we can take to reduce the residual risk.  Similarly, co-operation with such temporary risks may greatly assist in risk reduction.

 

Identification of risks

 

As part of our risk assessments, it is necessary to 'stand back' and consider fire spread from and to our building.  In some instances, a break is created between buildings, however, due to poor consideration we have filled that break with combustible material, therefore allowing the transfer of fire from one building to another and in this instance, remedial measures are simple.

 

Following our initial considerations of external risks, we then monitor the situation (as with all risks).  Should significant changes occur, for example an adjacent construction site, we must then review our risk assessment and implement any necessary alterations.

 

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.

 

 

 

Subscribe to our fire safety blogs

Bulletins
Email Format
* indicates required

FIRE SAFETY BLOGS

  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Smoke Management System Components - Part 23

    In this Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at fire and smoke ventilation. In the last blog, Part 22, we talked about the use of hot smoke tests in some parts of the world and how they can be carried out without damaging the premises in question.  In Part 23, we are going to look at the components of smoke management...

    Read more...

  • Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Locating Sprinkler Heads - Part 13

    In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at fixed fire-fighting systems. A sprinkler system design is usually as individual as the building which contains it. In part 13, we will look at how sprinkler heads should be located.In the vast majority of cases, if a sprinkler system is present in a building it should be...

    Read more...

  • Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Sprinkler System Heads & Heat - Part 12

    In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and who have a responsibility for or interest in fire safety, we have been looking at how sprinklers operate in buildings and in Part 11, we began to look at sprinkler heads. In Part 12, we’re going to discuss the effect of temperature on the operation and design of sprinkler heads and how the choice of the most appropriate type of sprinkler head can...

    Read more...

  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Hot Smoke Tests - Part 22

    In this blog series for Architects and others in the building design business, we have been looking at fire and smoke ventilation. In Part 21 of the series, we talked about the reliability and performance of a given design. In this blog we will give an overview of Hot Smoke Tests and how they are used.There is currently no requirement for hot smoke tests in the UK and although their use has been touched...

    Read more...

  • Grenfell Tower fire

    LWF have received a number of enquiries from the media following this morning’s terrible fire at Grenfell Tower. There are a number of factors that may have contributed to the rapid fire spread witnessed in the early hours of this morning and potentially a number of combinations of these factors are possible. There is insufficient information available at this time from which to draw meaningful conclusions regarding the cause and development of this fire. Historically, major...

    Read more...

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:...

Read more..

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...

Read more..

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...

Read more..

Site map | Web development London