The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Risk Assessment – Part 85

February 15, 2021 12:09 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 84, LWF looked at the probability of fire and how it can be quantified. In part 85, we continue to discuss the process followed when undertaking a fire risk assessment.


The potential consequences of a fire in a building must be considered and assessed in order to carry out a fire risk assessment. There are numerous factors affecting the likelihood of harm and severity possible, many of which were listed in part 84 of this blog series. When considering the potential consequences, it is important to take into account the resources available to respond to and control a fire once it has started. The measures in place should be assessed against the legal requirements and codes of practice in the country or area in which the premises are situated.


A risk may be seen as severe when a great number of people may be exposed to a fire, but equally, if only one person is exposed to a severe risk of harm on rare occasions, it would still constitute a serious risk. One example is that if a sole employee is required to undertake a monthly duty in a part of the building from which there is inadequate means of escape in case of fire, and/or inadequate warning of fire, this is an unacceptably high level of risk.


The likely consequences of fire having been assessed, it is necessary to combine the likelihood of fire with the consequences and one of the simplest ways to approach the task is via a grid with three categories for consequences of fire and three for likelihood of fire. This three by three matrix would therefore result in potentially nine risk categories overall. ‘Potentially’ is used in this instance because it is likely that the grid will result in less than nine categories overall, as some of the intersecting categories may provide similar or equivalent results.


PAS 79 gives an example of a simple risk-level estimator as described above, and it contains five risk categories: trivial risk, tolerable risk, moderate risk, substantial risk and intolerable risk. The risk level ascribed can then be used to provide actions and timescale.


In part 86, LWF will continue looking at the process of 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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