The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Insurers & Property Protection – Part 8

February 12, 2019 11:06 am

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 part Insurers have played in property protection over the years. In part 7, we discussed the role the FOC played in producing rules and regulations not only for building standards but also for fire protection products. In part 8, we will continue looking at the impact of the FOC rules on property protection, before looking at the reason the tariff system put in place by the FOC was abolished.

Despite the FOC’s regulations and rules raising the standard of fire protection generally, it should not be forgotten that their aim was property protection rather than life safety. One such example is that their requirements for automatic fire detection systems required only two bells for the entire building as its purpose was to alert the Fire Service by automatic transmission of the signal to a control room (or more recently, an alarm receiving centre). The purpose of one of the bells which would be located on the outside of the building was to indicate to the Fire Service which door they should arrive at in order to access the fire alarm control panel. 

In addition, the system did not need to include any manual call points. Another area of interest is that of fire-resisting doors inside buildings; the FOC required that they were sufficiently fire-resistant to withstand the passage of flame for a period that exceeded the requirements of escape routes for people in the building, however, they were not required to be smoke sealed, as they would be for life safety purposes.

The tariff insurance system which was promoted and disseminated so efficiently by the FOC also included an arrangement for FOC members not to charge less than the minimum rate for certain risks, unless the member companies had agreed the price decrease. In addition, where a large risk was insured by a number of different insurers together, a minimum of 65% of the values at risk should be underwritten by tariff companies. 

These restrictions in pricing drew the attention of the Monopolies Commission and in 1972, they recommended that the tariff system should be abolished. The (very informative and useful) technical section of the FOC became the Loss Prevention Council and the subsidiary approval and certification body became the Loss Prevention Certification Board. The LPCB was self-financing and not related purely to the needs of fire insurers, it was later amalgamated into the Building Research Establishment.

In part 9 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the impact of insurance on fire safety, in particular discussing the fallout from the abolishment of the tariff system. 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 0208 668 8663.

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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