The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Causes of Fire – Part 68

October 19, 2020 11:27 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 67, LWF looked at the available fire statistics and considered how this should inform fire prevention and avoidance in the future. In part 68, we continue from that point

In the U.K., fire statistics are published each year by the Home Office (prior to 2016, this was the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government).

In an industrial setting, fires are most commonly the result of the processes undertaken and therefore the causes of fire are more diverse than in a commercial environment.

Heating appliances are a cause of a small proportion of fires in any given environment. Space-heating appliances are noted as the majority cause of fires in this area.

When considering the data available on large fires, the three main causes mentioned in part 67 of this series are again ascribed as the main causes of ignition of large fires – arson, smokers’ materials and electrical sources, which together comprise around 60 per cent of all large fires. Arson is the single-most prevalent cause of major fires and it should be noted that whatever percentage per year is officially ascribed to arson, it could well be much higher, as around 15 to 20 per cent of all large fires are unattributable to a cause.

While specific data on office buildings is largely unavailable, an historic study showed that around 36 per cent of fires in the years between 1994 and 1998 were attributable to arson. With electrical appliances and equipment following next, at around 22 per cent and smokers materials at 11.

Cutting, welding and blowlamps were responsible for around 4 per cent of office fires, which implies contractor operations. It is worth noting that while the percentage of fires caused was relatively low, it remains significant and was responsible for some of the highest insurance claims as a result. In other words, fires from contractor works and on unfinished buildings tend to incur greater levels of damage to the property and/or contents than other fires.

It is advised that all companies with more than one location should keep in-house records of fire losses to include causes, location etc. Such records may assist in identifying hazards before a serious loss results.

In part 69, LWF will begin to discuss the scope and nature of fire precautions. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

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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