The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Insurers & Property Protection – Part 7

February 5, 2019 11:27 am

In LWF’s 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 part Insurers have played in property protection over the years. In part 6, we talked about the Salvage Corps and how they were established and then ultimately absorbed into the workload of local authority fire services. In part 7, we will continue looking at the impact of insurers on property protection by discussing the role of the Fire Offices’ Committee (FOC) in developments.


In addition to its work on insurance ratings and the provision of regulation for the Salvage Corps, the FOC became famous throughout the world for its excellence in technical issues. The FOC wished to promote the protection of property against fire loss and in order to achieve improvements and to support the tariffs, they developed sets of rules and recommendations for fire protection measures in the various industries involving processes constituting a fire hazard, for example, paint spraying.


They provided measures for the construction of buildings and for the installation of fire protection systems, such as automatic sprinkler and fire detection systems.


As the tariffs included a discount system for adhering to certain standards, the FOC provided rules for construction to support the tariff system and if those measures were followed, discounts were allowed. However, while their regulations might require a sprinkler system to be in use in certain circumstances, this would not have been sufficient safeguard if the systems themselves were not performing to certain standards. It was essential that those systems could be relied upon. The FOC therefore became very active in composing rules and testing for fire protection products too. Their remit included fire extinguishers, fire doors, fire shutters, fire detection systems, components of automatic sprinkler systems etc.


Many of the original British Standards, such as BS 5306-2 (prior to the European Norm amendments, now BS EN 12845:2015) and BS 5839-1 were based on original FOC standards for the design of fire protection installations and the performance of products such as sprinkler heads and detectors.


In part 8, LWF will continue to look at the standards the FOC created and how they impacted fire protection today and will also discuss the issue of charging arrangements put in place by the FOC, which led to the demise of the insurance tariff system. 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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