Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Community Fire Safety - Part 1

Posted by LWF: 13/05/2019 15:09

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, our aim is to give information on best practice and fire engineering. In part 1 of this series, we will take a look at Community Fire Safety, a term which, while it relates in the main to domestic fire safety, can also be applied to business environments. 

Community Fire Safety (CFS) could be described as proactive undertakings to develop an understanding of how to avoid the incidence and impact of fire through a combination of education, information and promotion. The main purpose of CFS is to enhance the safety of the population and although much of this is directed at domestic fire safety, the term now encompasses advice and assistance given to the business community. 

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 which applies to England and Wales, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Fire Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 all established a requirement of fire and rescue authorities to undertake CFS activities in both the domestic and business communities. 

While the majority of fatalities and injuries from fire occur in dwellings, rather than business premises, there is no legislation that affects the ongoing habitation of a dwelling which was built in accordance with building regulations, aside from provisions in the Housing Act 2006 which means that action can be taken by housing authorities where there may be risk to single-family dwellings as well as houses of multiple occupation (HMOs). 

The use of legislation to mitigate against occurrences of domestic fires would be difficult to enforce and monitor and so, while more needs to be done to assist the public with fire education, the concept of action taken against the owners or occupiers of domestic premises is not practicable.

Up to the 1990s, the involvement of the Fire Service in domestic fire safety was reactionary only, in that they were called and responded when a fire was occurring. Many fire services offered some kind of fire safety education to the public, either through schools or other organisations, but there was no formalising of this role through legislation. Funding for such activities was scarce and fire safety education was not seen as an essential function of a fire and rescue service. 

At the same time, casualties from fires in dwellings had increased by more than half in a 10-year period. Fire alarms were installed in around 79% of homes, but it was found that in homes where a fire had taken place, only 25% of them had fire alarms installed. In those homes with a fire alarm, where a fire had occurred, only 40% of those alarms had alerted the occupants to the fire. 

In part 2 of this series, LWF will continue looking at the history and remit of CFS. 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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