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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Protection for Businesses – Part 72

November 16, 2020 12:53 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 71, LWF discussed fire protection measures in terms of life protection and property protection. In part 72, we will consider those fire protection measures which are installed to protect property directly and those which are designed to protect a critical business function.

There are distinct differences between fire protection measures installed to protect property and those which are employed to protect a critical function on which business continuation depends. A relevant example is that of a computer which, in physical value, would only be worth a few thousand pounds sterling at most. The function it performs or the production process it controls could be extremely high-value and without it, the potential of the company to generate revenue would be lost.

The fire protection measures installed to protect the computer, such as suppression systems, structural fire protection measures and automatic extinguishing systems would far exceed the value of the physical unit itself, but protection of the computer from fire damage ensures business continuity and protects against damaging financial losses.

Fire protection measures can therefore be divided into three categories – life protection, protection of property and protection of business continuity. The types of measure taken, however, can be subdivided into two categories – active or passive.

Active fire protection measures are those which respond to a fire situation. They include mechanical and electrical equipment to detect fire, extinguish fire and control smoke. The way they respond to a fire differs, but a fire alarm will use electrical power to sound the alarm, water flows through pipes to the sprinkler system and a smoke extraction fan will begin to operate.

Passive fire protection describes measures which maintain their viability for a given duration of fire exposure. They do not need to change in order to perform their function. For the most part, passive fire protection relates to structural measures taken to contain fire in one area and avoid the passage of fire or smoke from that compartment to the next, although it can also be a term used in relation to good fire safety planning and design, provision of adequate means of escape etc.

In part 73, LWF will continue looking at passive fire protection before looking at pre-planning. 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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