The LWF Blog

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

January 10, 2019 12:18 pm

In LWFs 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 property protection and the insurer. In part 2, it was ascertained that while there is a legal requirement for buildings to be fire safe in order to ensure the safe evacuation of the building occupants, there is no legal requirement for precautions which are designed for the protection of property in the UK. However, as most businesses are concerned with property protection and business continuity and building insurers most certainly have requirements which must be met, it is a subject which is regularly discussed and focussed on, after life safety issues, in a fire risk assessment. In part 3 we will continue looking at how fire risk assessment evolved with property protection in mind.


While life safety is of primary concern when considering fire precautions and protection, it might be assumed that those measures required were also the first to be put into place historically. However, this is most definitely not the case. In terms of building design, it is only relatively recently that terms such as ‘means of escape’ are included. Many of the earliest fire safety precautions were taken with a view to limiting financial loss suffered by insurers.


One of the earlier forms of fire risk assessment (before the term itself was in existence) was carried out by building insurers to assess the risk to property and thus mitigate their own level of risk.


The early version of the IEE Regulations for Electrical Installations actually came from the rules of the Phoenix Assurance Co. for electrical installations. Indeed, the early requirements which led to the Building Regulations becoming formalised were intended to prevent large scale fires which could spread and cause significant damage to property in urban areas.


The earliest recorded form of insurance came about in the 13th and 14th centuries. Marine insurance was effectively provided by merchants who met in Lombard Street in London to find a way to protect them against losses when cargo and sometimes the ships themselves were lost at sea.


By 1680, an informal centre had been established in a coffee house in London. Auctions took place there to sell ships and so the sale of marine insurance was a natural bedfellow.  The coffee house was owned by Edward Lloyd and from these origins grew the now famous ‘Lloyd’s’ where underwriters in the form of Lloyd’s Syndicates transact their daily business.


In part 4, LWF will continue taking a look at the history of insurance and 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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