The LWF Blog
Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Inspection, Testing and Maintenance – Part 1May 24, 2018 1:10 pm
In LWF’s blog series for Facilities Managers or those with an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we aim to give an overview of best practice and methods of applying or maintaining fire prevention provision. In part 1, the importance of inspection, testing and maintenance of fire protection measures is discussed.
Once fire protection measures are installed in a building, it would be comforting to think that they were simply waiting in case they were needed, at which point they would activate and protect the building and its occupants from the effects of fire. However, as with any machinery or appliance, upkeep is necessary in order to ensure they are fit for purpose.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires fire protection equipment and systems for the safety of persons to be subject to a suitable programme of maintenance and repair. In addition, any negligence in this area can affect fire insurance policies and could result in the insurance being considered invalid in the case of a fire.
As a lack of maintenance of systems designed to protect building occupants could lead to injuries or even fatalities, the potential for private litigation is significant.
While every company or organisation should have a formal inspection schedule, appropriate to the systems and building type, informal inspections are to be encouraged. The inclusion of elementary fire protection awareness in staff fire training could mean that small deficiencies are spotted by staff members as they go about their duties in the building.
It is important also that any reports from staff in relation to fire safety should be followed up promptly and dealt with appropriately.
An organisation should compile checklists to be followed at appropriate intervals. For example, less detailed inspections could take place and be checked off as a part of standard housekeeping duties on a daily or weekly basis. This might include simple tasks such as checking evacuation routes are clear of obstructions and fire escapes are working and not obstructed either inside or outside the building. Formal self-inspection procedures should be detailed on a timetable which is considered appropriate for the fire protection measures involved and also based on the type of premises.
While checklists are important to ensure that no important element is neglected, it is also important that not only those considerations listed are followed, but that any changes to the building or systems involved are noted and followed up on.
While active fire protection measures such as fire alarms or sprinkler systems are commonly highlighted as an area requiring regular attention in order to function correctly, it is also important that passive fire protection measures are considered and understood by any relevant parties. The potential for harm following a new service penetration (through a compartment wall) which has not been fire-stopped could mean the spread of fire from one area to the next through that vulnerability.
In part 2 of this series, we will continue looking at the necessary actions to ensure maintenance of active and passive fire protection systems. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.
Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.
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.