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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 75

December 7, 2020 12:05 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 74, LWF looked at fire risk assessment and how it has come to be the basis on which fire precautions are implemented. In part 75, we consider some of the terminology used when undertaking a fire risk assessment.

When discussing fire safety and fire risk assessments, the terms ‘fire hazard’ and ‘fire risk’ are both commonplace. It has been routine to see them used almost interchangeably, but they are different. In the field of health and safety, these terms and others like them are used with exactitude, while in terms of fire safety, they have often been used loosely or synonymously.

In recent years, the fact that fire safety in an organisation must now be subject to a risk assessment in the same way (although not the same risk assessment) as general health and safety, means that it is advisable for terms used to be more precise and consistent across the board.

In health and safety terms, a hazard is a source or situation with a potential for harm in terms of death, ill health or injury, or a combination of those factors. A risk is a combination of the likelihood and consequence of a specified hazardous event. (The risk of the hazard occurring relates to likelihood, the risk from the hazard happening relates to consequence).

Understanding this distinction between hazard and risk will assist in an analytical approach to any aspect of safety including fire safety.

The nature of fire hazards shows us that it is simply a situation with the potential to result in a fire. Faulty electrical wiring is certainly a fire hazard, but two factors which in isolation would not be fire hazards, could combine to become a fire hazard.

A pile of cardboard against the wall of a building might not seem like a fire hazard until somebody goes outside for a cigarette and disposes of their smouldering cigarette butt carelessly. Additionally, any flammable materials near the outside wall of a building can become a fire hazard if an arsonist is around. The fire risk relates to the likelihood if a fire occurring and the risk to the premises if a fire did start.

In part 76, LWF will continue to look at fire hazards and fire risks. 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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