The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 76

December 14, 2020 12:32 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 75, LWF considered some of the terminology used when undertaking a fire risk assessment. In part 76, we continue to look at the definitions of fire hazards and fire risks.

In fire safety industry parlance, the term ‘fire risk’ has been used with varying definitions. Until 2005, the definition for ‘fire risk’ was ‘the likelihood that fire will occur’, courtesy of a now superseded part of BS 4422. This was at odds with the definition understood by health and safety practitioners, which was broader in that it combined both the likelihood that fire would occur and the consequences of the fire.

The original meaning for fire risk as simply the risk fire would occur might lead to situations where fire risk could be considered acceptable in premises where the risk of a fire occurring had been reduced, but the fire safety factors such as means of escape or fire warning were inadequate.

BS 4422 was updated in 2005 and new definitions were given, as follows:

Fire hazard: potential for injury and/or damage from fire;

Fire risk: product of the probability of occurrence of a fire to be expected in a given technical operation or state, and the consequence or extent of damage to be expected on the occurrence of a fire;

Fire risk assessment: process of identification and evaluation of fire risk to people, property or the environment.

The BSI publication on fire risk assessment – PAS 79  has approached the definitions in a similar way and parallel the definitions given in BS 8800:

Fire hazard: source or situation with potential to result in a fire (e.g. an ignition source or an accumulation of waste that could be subject to ignition);

Fire hazard identification: process of recognizing that a fire hazard exists and defining its characteristics;

Fire risk: combination of the likelihood and consequence(s) of fire;

Fire risk assessment: overall process of identifying fire hazards and evaluating the risks to health and safety arising from them, taking account of existing risk controls (or, in the case of a new activity, the proposed risk controls).

In part 77, LWF will discuss hazard and risk in the context of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. 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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