The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 82

January 25, 2021 12:17 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 81, LWF discussed the process of fire risk assessments, beginning with the parallels to health and safety standard risk assessments. In part 82, we look at how to check for and identify fire hazards as part of a fire risk assessment for a building.

The majority of premises will require a detailed fire risk assessment rather than a simple checklist, which may only be appropriate for small and simple buildings. The process should begin with fire hazard identification, based on a prompt list of recognised fire hazards.

Common sources of ignition should be recognised and identified, such as:

  • Electrical installations and equipment
  • Smoking areas (official and potentially unofficial)
  • Malicious ignition
  • Cooking areas and processes
  • Heating equipment
  • Any fire hazards particular to the company and its processes/activities
  • Flammable liquids

The process of hazard identification should mean that each and every instance of fire hazard is recognised and consideration is given to each, along with any existing controls in place, to provide an analysis of the potential for fire to arise from the hazards.

When considering an area of hazard, it is important to note what the policies of the organisation are towards that particular hazard. Are there existing checks and maintenance scheduled and are they sufficient? If so, a further consideration must be made relating to how the issues are addressed in practice. Are the checks and maintenance being completed at the regular intervals indicated in the policies or is improvement needed?

While it might be tempting for an organisation to simply say that all checks and maintenance are completed as intended, to do so would be counterproductive. A fire resulting from late or sporadic attention to a hazard would cause harm to the organisation and potentially, the building occupants. It is far better to acknowledge any shortfall and address it moving forward.

It is also a necessity to address any unofficial or prohibited practices. If employees smoke in a no-smoking area, the fire hazard must be acknowledged and the risk mitigated. If employees contravene the electrical appliances standards by plugging in and using their own appliances – in recent times, phone chargers are a common example – this should be noted rather than turning a blind eye. Far better to PAT test the unofficial appliances than have them cause a fire.

In part 83, LWF will look at how to ascribe a level of risk based on the hazards identified. 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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