The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire & Rescue Service Facilities – Part 2

November 23, 2017 1:15 pm

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety in a building, we have been discussing the type of access and information required by the Fire Service to ensure they are able to protect your building and its occupants where necessary.


In Part 2, we’ll begin by considering access to the site for appliances and firefighters, as if it was to be a new building. Existing buildings cannot always practically achieve the same standards as a new build although it is important to be aware of requirements and discuss ways of achieving safe access for vehicles and individuals with the Fire Service.


The exterior of a building must be considered at the design stage of the process to ensure that there is adequate facility for fire appliances to access the building. If the building has a rising mains installed, the requirements for access to the exterior of the building may not be so onerous. A rising mains is a vertical water mains which are fitted into a building usually into staircase/protected enclosure.


Each floor will have a ‘landing valve’ which is a water outlet that the Fire Service can connect to. Specific guidance on the requirements of the Fire Service in relation to access to the premises can be found in Approved Document B (for England and Wales).


When considering safe access of the fire-fighters to the building, it is most important that they are able to access staircases and (firefighting) lifts. Particularly in a high building or one with subterranean levels, smoke-free stairways must be provided and these are known as fire-fighting stairs. Each level of the staircase should have a fire-fighting lobby. The challenges of moving equipment up to higher levels of the building would be very difficult without the use of a fire-fighting lift, which would continue to work in a fire situation (unlike standard passenger lifts) and so this is often a requirement in a high-rise building.


The fire-fighting staircases, fire-fighting lift, fire-fighting lobbies and the rising mains will all be enclosed within a fire-fighting shaft which is fire resistant and so will help to maintain tenable conditions for the Fire Service.


Those facilities provided for the Fire Service can also be put to general use in the building on an everyday basis and are usually also part of the means of escape during evacuation of the building. A firefighting lift is essentially a conventional passenger lift but one that is of sufficient size for the Fire Service requirements, has override controls allowing it to be managed from the ground floor and has a power supply which can be maintained during a fire situation, amongst other minor detailed variations.


In Part 3 of this series, LWF will look at the requirements and recommendations for fire-fighting shafts. 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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