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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 79

January 4, 2021 12:40 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 78, LWF looked at how definitions of hazard and risk in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) and associated CLG guides have blurred the previously understood terms. In part 79, LWF will explore the concept of fire risk assessments.

Perhaps the primary initial activity of a fire risk assessment lies in identifying hazards and potential hazards which may result in a fire. The hazards may be considered ‘soft’ circumstances or ‘hard’ circumstances. For example, inadequate fire safety training of staff could be considered a soft circumstance. A faulty fryer in a kitchen area would be a hard circumstance. Each, of course, requires a response.

The response to fire hazards identified in the premises is a fire prevention action. In practice, it is likely that each stage will not be approached in isolation. The responsible person (or person brought in by the responsible person with specialist skills in fire risk assessment) is most likely to note the fire hazard and the required response in terms of fire protection at the same time.

The consequences of fire will be governed by many different elements. A building with a good fire alarm system, uncluttered means of escape and which contains staff with good fire safety training will undoubtedly suffer less severe consequences than an unprepared business or premises.

The fire protection measures provided are of the utmost importance and the physical aspects – means of escape, fire warning, automatic fire extinguishing systems are considered ‘hard’ factors. Soft factors will include management practices, fire safety training, regular fire drills etc.

However prepared a business or organisation may be, a one size fits all approach rarely works. It is important to consider the characteristics of the building’s occupants. Impaired mobility, whether temporary or permanent must be considered and arrangements made. In some circumstances, the sounding of a fire alarm may cause occupants who are particularly susceptible to experience confusion, panic or illogical behaviour, for example in a nursing home, mental health facility or rehabilitation centre.

The variables found when considering the type of occupant of any given building must be considered and appropriate action taken to mitigate. This may take the form of specialist staff training, or particular fire drills and rehearsals.

In part 80, LWF will continue to discuss what is involved in a fire risk assessment. 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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