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

Freephone: 0800 410 1130
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 - 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...

    Read more...

  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Fire Safety Policies - Part 66

    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...

    Read more...

  • Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Insurers & Property Protection - 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 role of insurers in property protection. In part 12, we looked at the increase of liability insurance which coincided with the introduction of the Employers’ Liability Act – designed to put into place a system whereby a person injured at work could claim against his employer for...

    Read more...

  • 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.

    Read more...

  • 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...

    Read more...

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...

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 Croydon