The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire Safety Management – Part 3

April 26, 2018 11:03 am

In LWF’s blogs for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for Fire Safety, we have been looking at Fire Safety Management. In part 2 of this series, we outlined the necessity of ensuring the ‘responsible person’ was sufficiently experienced, trained, resourced and aware of the requirements of such a role. In part 3, we look at how fire risks are identified on a per organisation business, in addition to the life safety risks which must be mitigated by law.


While a fire risk assessment is an essential tool in order to comply with legislation and ensure the safety of building occupants, it is just one tool in terms of risk assessment and fire safety management. The risk assessment will form the basis of policies and procedures which cover the basic requirements of life safety in a fire situation, but will also highlight risks relating to the business and property that a responsible organisation will need to address.


Risks to business continuity, stock, property and other assets will necessitate the implementation of additional policies and practices in order to protect assets and critical facilities. Indeed, the business insurer may insist that such risks are mitigated before agreeing to insure.


A simple ‘for instance’ might be that a large retail group feels the risk to each store from fire is such that all buildings should have sprinkler protection. The relevant insurer is likely to provide more attractive premiums and better cover if they are consulted on the necessary precautions required.


However, in a data storage or management facility, the provision of sprinklers would actually cause damage to the computers and so a gaseous extinguishing system would be more appropriate, with the necessary safeguards in place to protect employees and any other persons in that area.


While the initial risk assessment will highlight risks that must be mitigated, and the employing of an appropriate fire suppression system and any related policies and procedures would be considered a solution to that risk, the task of effective fire safety management does not end at that point.


Fire safety must be an ongoing concern and a timetable of checks, maintenance and inspections must be put into place to support the infrastructure. In addition, even temporary changes inside the building due to works or repairs can affect the fire safety procedures and so must be risk assessed on an ongoing basis.


BS 9999 gives recommendations and guidance on the design, management and use of buildings to achieve reasonable standards of fire safety for all people in and around them. It also provides guidance on the on-going management of fire safety within a building throughout its entire life cycle, including guidance for designers to ensure that the overall design of a building assists and enhances the management of fire safety.


In part 4 of this series, LWF will look at the areas requiring the attention of the ‘Responsible Person’ in terms of fire safety. 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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