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Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire Procedures – Part 2

June 28, 2018 12:08 pm

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 fire procedures and how they can have a significant impact on the outcome for building occupants during a fire situation. In part 1, we established the need to define fire procedures suitable for the building, its contents and the occupancy as there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. In addition, a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) must be written for and with each member of staff with a disability. In part 2, we outline who the fire procedures are written for and look at the required content of the fire procedures.


The fire procedures are written for all occupants of the building in question, who can be broken down into three groups:


 The person who initially discovers the fire


 People who hear the alarm and do not have any additional or special duties to perform, aside from evacuating the building


 People to whom specific duties have been assigned, in case of a fire in the building.


The issue of what action must be taken upon discovery of a fire in the premises can be summarised using the mnemonic R.I.P.


R – Raise the alarm


I – Inform the Fire Service


P – Put out the fire if it is safe to do so and the individual is suitably trained, or evacuate the building


In theory, the points are placed in the order which they should be carried out. In practice, all three points should be actioned as soon as possible and if more than one person discovers the fire, each should take on a different duty in order to expedite the process.


It should be recognised that any person has the right to activate the fire alarm system if they discover a fire. In the past, some companies instituted a system whereby the person who discovers a fire would have to notify someone else who would activate the fire alarm. Such systems cause delay and are therefore a danger to all building occupants. In addition, if such a system were in place and a fire occurred, it may affect both criminal and insurance liabilities.


Some buildings are configured to allow zoned/phased evacuation in case of a fire, meaning that the entire building might not need to be evacuated if a fire is found in a part of it. In such circumstances, the person who operates the manual call point will normally hear the fire alarms in the relevant zone, as it will be the closest call point to the source of the fire.


In cases where the manual call point activated is not within the area to be evacuated, the operator should receive a confirmation that the signal was received by the control unit through a red light on the call point.


In large and complex organisations, it may be that after activating the call point, further information about the fire and its location should be given over the telephone to a responsible person. This is acceptable providing the alarm has already been activated and the caller is in a safe area.


In part 3 of this series, LWF will look at summoning the Fire Service to a 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 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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