The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Insurers & Property Protection – Part 15

April 1, 2019 1:24 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 the impact of insurers on fire safety and property protection. While there is much crossover between fire safety for life protection and fire safety for property protection, there are also many areas of difference in terms of requirements in respect of design of fire protection methods. One such example given in part 14 is that category L (life protection) fire alarm systems will sound inside a building to alert building occupants, whereas a category P system (property protection) will alert the Fire Service and is likely to have beacons on the outside of the building. In part 15, we will continue looking at the areas of variation.


Sprinkler systems designed for property protection rather than life protection may have a slower sprinkler head reaction time which would render them less effective at protecting life. Depending upon placement and suitability, it may be that a life protection system could be used to protect property as well as life.


A sprinkler system which was designed for life protection purposes is likely to have more features than a property protection system, such as duplication of critical parts.


Compartmentation in a building can also be significantly different when comparing the requirements of property insurers against the requirements of building regulations which are designed to protect building occupants. While the spread of fire must be prevented for life safety purposes, 30 minutes fire resistance is considered sufficient for the purposes of safe evacuation from the building; a property insurer is likely to require 60 minutes to ensure damage from fire spread is limited. In addition, avoiding the passage of smoke from one compartment to the next is a major consideration for life safety purposes, whereas it may not be from the property insurer’s point of view.


Variation in the type of fixed fire suppression system used is more common in circumstances where its’ aim is to protect property rather than life. Life protection systems tend to be sprinklers or water mist systems, whereas property protection systems may include the use of gases which could prove dangerous for building occupants to breathe.


In part 16 of this series, LWF will continue looking at those elements intended to protect life against those intended to protect property from fire, before discussing how businesses can be protected from interruption in the form of 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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