Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting - Part 13

Posted by LWF: 08/11/2018 11:24

In LWF’s fire engineering blog series for architects and others in the building design business, we began discussing firefighting. In part 12, an overview of the term and its meaning before looking at the method of firefighting, namely the strategy, tactics and operations of the Fire Service in the UK and equivalent organisations in other parts of the world. In part 13, we look at firefighting by occupiers of a building.

Firefighting undertaken by occupiers of a building is sometimes referred to as ‘first-aid firefighting’, meaning that it is attempted by persons on the scene at the time of the fire, while support from a Fire Service is obtained. The aim of first-aid firefighting is usually to extinguish a fire as quickly as possible, before it becomes larger and more intense. The ability of staff members and building occupants to extinguish a fire will be based on various factors, such as the availability of equipment, understanding of fire extinguishing through training, physical ability and skill level. 

The duty of the ‘responsible person’ or of a business or organisation is to ‘safeguard the safety of relevant persons’ and so it may be that a building which is able to comply with all relevant fire safety standards relating to evacuating the building – automatic fire detection, warning systems, emergency lighting etc. – that fire extinguishers will not be provided, as they would be considered unnecessary in terms of the main safeguarding duty. 

However, it is usual for fire extinguishers to be provided and when they are, the extinguishers provided must be in accordance with the rules and codes relating to fire extinguishers in the country or region in question. Adequate training must be given to all employees in the use of fire extinguishers in a fire situation and should include how to operate the types of extinguisher provided as well as taking into account the physical abilities of the staff to carry and operate the tanks over the distances which may be required. 

It is necessary in all circumstances that a route to safety is maintained, so that the operator of the fire extinguisher can make an escape at any point they deem necessary. Training should include guidance on the possible sizes of a fire and should inform the size above which it is necessary to simply evacuate rather than attempting firefighting procedures. All firefighting, extinguisher and general fire safety training should be repeated at least once a year.

In part 14 of this series, LWF will look at hose reels. 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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