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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention – Part 91

March 29, 2021 12:55 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 90, LWF discussed how a fire risk assessment should be viewed and used by the management of an organisation. In part 91, we begin to look at fire prevention and its importance.

When talking about what measures an organisation have taken to prevent fire, it is actually more common for people to mention active fire protection measures. They may mention the fire alarm system, or sprinkler protection. While active fire protection measures are very useful when a fire starts, little mention is made of fire prevention measures which, as the name suggests, are actually capable of preventing a fire from occurring in the first place.

The reason for the subject of fire prevention being little discussed is that it can be deemed less interesting. Fire prevention measures can seem trivial, while the cost and complexity of a fire protection measure can make them a more interesting topic of discussion.

In addition, there is a view that fires are somehow inevitable and cannot be avoided, and therefore all the time and effort must be placed into fire protection methods.

After a fire disaster, attention is often paid to any perceived deficits in fire protection, rather than looking at what might have been done to prevent fire occurring in the first place. Two major fire disasters – Kings Cross Underground Station in 1987 and Bradford Football Stadium in 1985 were both criticised for ineffective fire protection, when in the first instance, management had paid attention only to fire protection methods and largely ignored fire prevention. In the second case, it was suggested the stadium should have been fitted with sprinklers, when the serious nature of the fire could have been avoided by clearing the rubbish underneath the stand floor, so it could not be ignited and cause the blaze which resulted.

Fire protection measures should be in place to complement and work with fire prevention methods. Fire prevention cannot be ignored or substituted with a fire protection system. If it were possible to avoid all fires started through arson, smokers’ materials and electrical sources, the number of fires in the UK would be drastically lowered. It makes sense, therefore to spend some time discussing the fire prevention measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of those types of fires.

In part 92 of this series, LWF will continue discussing fire prevention. 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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