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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Precautions – Part 69

October 26, 2020 12:46 pm

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 68, LWF discussed fire statistics and considered how this should inform fire prevention and avoidance in the future. In part 69, we begin to consider the nature and scope of fire precautions.

Fire precautions are those measures taken to reduce the potential for ignition of a fire occurring and to mitigate the consequences if ignition does happen. Prior to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act, while not permitting actively unsafe environments for employees, did not attempt to address in any detail the potential for mitigating against fire. It was largely assumed that they should be concerned with safe evacuation from premises, for example, rather than stopping a fire happening in the first place.

In other words, if a fire occurred regularly in a building but the building occupants were safely evacuated, there would have been no breach of legislation such as the Fire Precautions Act.

The Fire Safety Order in England and Wales and equivalents in Northern Ireland and Scotland differ significantly from the old legislation in that they take a more holistic approach to fire safety. A fire risk assessment is necessary and the probability of fire is a necessary component of fire risk.

As building projects become ever more ambitious and complex, the necessity for a system whereby individual assessments and solutions were required became paramount. Legislation is concerned mainly with the protection of life and not in the preserving of property. Life safety measures tend to be simpler, less extensive and less costly than those designed to protect property.

In the case of a hospital building, for instance, it is imperative that building occupants are protected and evacuated (although this is most commonly to another place of safety within the building, rather than outside, due to the need for continued patient care) but it is also important that the building, treatment areas and equipment are protected from fire, so that continued care can be provided to those whose lives depend upon it.

Fire precautions can be simply divided into two distinct areas – fire prevention measures are those intended to prevent fire occurring and fire protection measures are to afford protection if fire does occur.

In part 70, LWF will begin to look at fire prevention in more detail. 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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