The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention & Protection – Part 71

November 11, 2020 11:35 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 70, LWF looked at the terms ‘fire prevention’ and ‘fire protection’ and what is meant by them. In part 71, we continue discussing fire protection measures in terms of life protection and property protection.

While legislation commonly requires life protection measures and insurers or advisors may recommend or insist upon property protection measures, this is not the only way to distinguish them from each other. It is normally fairly straightforward to ascertain if a measure is for life or property protection.

Emergency lighting is, fairly obviously, provided to ensure people evacuating the building can see their way and would not make any difference to the property protection needs of a building.

Another easily categorised measure is a gaseous extinguishing installation in a server room, for example. As any personnel on the premises must be evacuated before it can be activated, it is clearly not for their benefit but to extinguish fire and protect the computer equipment.

The ability to distinguish the two types of fire protection measures does not mean there are not measures which overlap both sets of aims. A sprinkler which may have been installed for property protection purposes will slow the development of a fire and in doing so, will contribute to the life safety of persons inside the building.

Sprinkler protection is also required in shopping centres or complexes by legislation, to help ensure safe evacuation from a building which can be complex and large. It will help to protect the property contained within, by avoiding the rapid spread of fire and in controlling fire size before the Fire Service arrives, but in this instance, that aim is a by-product of the requirement for life safety.

When a fire engineered design is sought for a new building, the inclusion of appropriate sprinkler systems can mean that the prescriptive travel distances for the evacuation route from a building can be extended, as effectively, more time is available for people to evacuate safely.
There are further examples where a fire protection measure provided for one reason will assist with the other at some point, if there were to be a fire.

In part 72, LWF will consider those fire protection measures which are installed to protect property directly and those which are designed to protect a critical business function. 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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