The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Taking action upon finding a fire – Part 5

July 19, 2018 11:38 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 fire procedures; who they are written for and how they should be written.  Parts 3 and 4 of this series looked at summoning the fire service to a fire and in part 5, we look at what other action should be taken upon fire discovery.


The issue of how fire procedures should approach the subject of extinguishing the fire is one that should be understood and prepared for accordingly. It would not be appropriate or safe to require an employee or building occupant to attempt to extinguish a fire, however, provided that suitable equipment and training are provided, it is acceptable to suggest that it may be undertaken if safe to do so.


A simple example might be that a small fire might be suppressed by a suitable fire extinguisher in the time between the alarm being raised and the fire service being summoned and them arriving, whereas to simply leave the fire until the fire service arrived might mean a much larger fire and increased danger to building occupants and damage to the property and contents.


It is not safe for a person who is untrained in using the portable extinguishing appliances to do so or to suggest that they might.


It is essential that the alarm is sounded and the fire service contacted prior to any attempts being made to extinguish a fire, or at the same time where there is more than one person available to do so.


With regards to what action should be taken upon hearing the alarm, in the case of those people who did not discover the fire, it depends upon what type of alarm has sounded. An alert alarm can mean that there is a fire in another part of the building or on another floor and evacuation is not yet necessary for all occupants. The evacuation alarm will sound in areas that must be evacuated immediately. Many premises have just one alarm sound to prompt evacuation and no alert alarm.


In buildings where an alert alarm is given, preparations for evacuation should be made. This might involve the shutting down of equipment or machinery and should instigate the immediate evacuation of any persons with disabilities or temporary mobility issues.


In part 6 of this series, LWF will continue to look at what should happen when the fire alarm is heard with the evacuation signal.  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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