Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting & Hose Reels - Part 16

Posted by LWF: 27/11/2018 15:25

In LWFs fire engineering blog series for Architects and others in the building design business, we have been looking at firefighting in relation to what can be achieved by the occupier of a building. In parts 14 and 15 of this series, we discussed the elements which constitute a typical provision of hose reels and in part 16, we consider an alternative approach.

With such a wide variety of firefighting equipment being available for use by building occupiers, it could be too easy to purchase and install a product which wouldn’t be suitable, either because it was insufficient for the purposes it might be needed for, or because it might be too large or cumbersome for some occupancies. 

Before deciding on which equipment is necessary, consideration should be given to the following:

- For what purpose are the hose reels provided?

- What might be the maximum size of a fire it would be used on?

- Which persons might be likely to use the equipment?

- The strength that might be required to pull out a hose along a difficult route.

While standard hoses are available that measure 35 or 45 metres in length, the length of the hose reel purchased should be based on measurements made during the fire risk assessment. In addition, the nature of the ‘terrain’ to be crossed must be considered. In a well-organised warehouse, it could be practical to use a much longer hose reel as it could be unreeled in a straight line with little or no obstruction. However, a long hose reel would become incredibly cumbersome along a route which contained furniture and different corridors and rooms and so a shorter hose reel length would be more suitable.

In a more challenging environment, it would therefore be more practical to provide two well-placed shorter length hose reels than one with a long hose.
When considering the distribution of hose reels, the following elements must be considered:

- That every area of every room should be reachable by the water from the hose

- The maximum diameter and length of the reel should be based on the conditions above

- The reels must be located in such positions that the operator can turn away from the fire and escape.

It should also be noted that any changes to hose reel provision in terms of the size of the hose should be approved by the local enforcing authority and/or the building insurers.

While hose reels are still very much in use in the UK, many fire and rescue authorities consider fire extinguishers to be more appropriate for use by lay persons, due to the additional physical requirements of hose reel operation. The physical condition of the staff member(s) who may operate a hose reel is an essential and yet difficult to measure and guarantee factor.

It is also worth mentioning that some premises still use fire buckets, which are simply filled with sand to be used in premises where flammable liquids and petrol are present. The sand can be used around the edges of a pool of such liquid to create a reservoir which in then extinguishes the fire, while containing it. Foam or dry powder extinguishers can also be used, and in all cases, appropriate training is required to ensure fire safety.

In part 17 of this series, we begin to look at firefighting undertaken by the Fire Services. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us. 

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.

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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