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 - 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.

 

 

 

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FIRE SAFETY BLOGS

  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Compartmentation & Life Safety - Part 5

    In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others working in the building design business, we have been discussing compartmentation. In part 4 of this series, the ways in which compartmentation supports life safety functions in a fire situation were summarised. In part 5, we look at the ways the issue of compartmentation and life safety is covered in the national building regulations, before looking at the spread of fire. 

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  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Compartmentation & Fire Hazard Rooms and Areas - Part 39

    In LWF’s 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 38 of this series, the importance of fire stopping the joints between fire separating elements such as walls and any openings was discussed. In part 39, we will continue in that area by looking at fire hazard rooms and areas.While most types of buildings require the protection...

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  • Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Content of Fire Training - Part 13

    In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for Fire Safety, we have been looking at the necessity for staff training and fire drills. In part 12 we looked at the implications of committing to fire safety training in a business or organisation in terms of time commitment. In part 13, the necessary content of the fire safety training sessions is outlined. All comprehensive...

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  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Maintenance of Compartmentation - Part 4

    In LWF’s Fire Engineering blogs for Architects and others who work in the building design business, we have been looking at compartmentation of buildings to avoid fire spread from the compartment of fire origin to any other area. In part 3 of this series, the fire-resisting performance of elements which go into comprising a fire-resistant compartment was discussed. In part 4, we discuss how a compartment’s integrity is only as good as its ongoing maintenance,...

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  • Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Staff Training & Fire Drills - Part 12

    In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at staff training and fire drills. In part 11 of this series, methods of training were discussed and in part 12, we will continue from that point to discuss the practicalities of who should receive training and how it should be organised.Adequate fire training should be given 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...

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...

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