Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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E-mail: fire@lwf.co.uk

Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Business Continuity Insurance - Part 18

Posted by LWF: 23/04/2019 15:29

LWF’s blog series for those who work in facilities management or who have a responsibility for or an interest in fire safety has been looking at the impact the insurance industry has had on fire safety. In part 17, we discussed the increase in take-up of business continuity insurance, known at the time as consequential loss insurance in a changing business and industrial landscape. In part 18, we continue from that point.

In the early 1970s, the Fire Offices' Committee (FOC) saw a need to address the changes which had taken place in terms of a reduction in manufacturing and industrial and a substantial increase in those organisations working with data, resulting in the use of major computer halls. They issued recommendations for the fire protection of such buildings which ultimately became the basis upon which BS 6266 was based. BS 6266 - Fire protection for electronic equipment installations - Code of practice, was published originally in 1982 and remains in use today, albeit the product of some revisions over the years.

The most recent version of BS 6266 – 2011 – has increased its scope to encompass a range of electronic-based businesses with an acute vulnerability to business interruption from fire. Some examples are telecommunications, internet servers, call centres etc. The standard now covers all electronic equipment installations and concentrates on those which would be critical to the functioning of a business.

In the case of businesses relying on essential electronic equipment, the precautions taken can sometimes seem to outweigh the risks involved. The risk of a fire in a server room is very low, for example, assuming that standard health and safety checks are made. The high level of fire protection seen for such environments is usually as a result of the potential for a huge consequential loss to the business if a fire did occur.

It would be of little use to concentrate all the fire protection measures only in the area of the server room we are using as an example, as it is much more common for a fire to begin outside that area and spread into the installation. The potential for fire spread illustrates why there is a need for fire-resistant construction to surround the installation, which would avoid the passage of smoke and fire for the period of time it was designated to do so (usually a minimum of 30 minutes, but more likely to be 60 minutes fire-resistance).  Other fire detection and fire extinguishing systems are commonly found in the areas surrounding electronic installations such as server rooms, with the same purpose. 

Other enhancements to fire protection might not be so obvious. Facilities such as electrical switchrooms, plant rooms, power cables all of which provide ‘life support’ to an electrical installation will need to have protected critical functions with back-up resources as necessary.

In part 19 of this series, LWF will continue to look at how businesses can protect themselves against interruption in the event of fire. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years' experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF's publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.



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