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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 83

February 1, 2021 1:07 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 82, LWF discussed how to check for and identify fire hazards as part of a fire risk assessment for a building. In part 83, we look at how to ascribe a level of risk based on the hazards identified.

When considering the hazards identified as part of a fire risk assessment, a probability should be designated for each hazard. For instance, in the case of a fire starting as a result of people smoking in an undesignated area, it might be that the hazard is designated as ‘low’ risk of a fire occurring as a result. When considering a hazard such as the fatty deposits in the ducting of a kitchen extract, the probability might be ‘high’.

It is important also to note the context and while this may not affect the level of risk represented by a hazard, it can certainly impact upon the consequences if a fire were to occur. A hazard in an area which might preclude effective evacuation from the building, for example, could have devastating consequences, whereas defective wiring in an enclosure away from building occupants would not have such terrible consequences if a fire were to occur.

In the first stages of a risk assessment, it can be difficult to apportion specific risk to each fire hazard and it may be more practical to define the level of hazard in the premises overall. In equivalent terms, this overall level of hazard for the premises can be seen as a subjective statement of the probability of fire.

It may be prudent to limit the categorisation of fire hazards to a simple ‘low, medium and high’. If this method is used, it can help to avoid inconsistencies that may occur when too many categories are used.

The use of only three levels of hazard can assist with providing consistency between different assessors and premises and can also assist the non-specialist in making appropriate assessments. The choice between ‘low, medium and high’ is much simpler than a choice between, ‘very low, low, medium, high, very high’, for instance. More choice can mean more inconsistency.

In part 88, LWF will continue to look at the probability of fire and how it can be quantified. 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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