The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 84

February 8, 2021 12:37 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 83, LWF looked at how to ascribe a level of risk based on the hazards identified. In part 84, we continue to discuss the probability of fire and how it can be quantified.

When undertaking a fire risk assessment and considering the probability that a fire will occur in a given set of premises, there are various contributory elements; the processes and activities carried out within, the condition of the building’s electrical installation and the types of materials stored on the premises, etc.

All physical and procedural measures in place to prevent fire should be taken into account, but the potential for arson must also be considered, as malicious fire setting is a major cause of fire. Arson is seen less commonly in buildings to which the public do not have access, and is most common in public entertainment venues such as cinemas. The potential for arson is sufficiently serious for an entertainment venue to be precluded from being in the lowest category of fire risk in the majority of cases.

The fire risk assessment process must then proceed to the next stage – the consequences if a fire was to occur. The consequences are independent of the probability of fire, although still related to the nature of the fire hazards that exist. When considering the consequences, the aim is to address the potential extent of harm that building occupants may be exposed to, as well as the likelihood that harm will occur.

There are numerous factors affecting the potential severity and likelihood of harm in the event of a fire:

  • The number of people that may be affected
  • The physical and psychological characteristics of building occupants
  • How familiar the occupants are with the premises and fire procedures
  • How far from ground level is the building
  • Means of escape
  • Measures assisting in escape
  • How occupants are warned of fire
  • What means are in place to contain and extinguish fire
  • Emergency planning for action in case of fire
  • Staff training

In considering each factor listed, it is possible to classify the consequences of fire into three categories, each of which represents the most reasonably foreseeable consequences of fire in the building.

In part 85, LWF will continue to discuss the process followed when undertaking 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.

Share this post