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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Structural Fire Protection – Part 152

June 6, 2022 11:33 am

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 151, LWF discussed structural fire protection and compartmentation. In part 152, we will continue to discuss structural fire protection and construction.

It is common for a fire insurer to require hazardous storage areas to be separated from the surrounding accommodations by fire-resisting construction. An area may be considered hazardous when it contains flammable liquids, hazardous processes (paint-spraying for example) and fire risks such as diesel generators.

Property protection doesn’t not only involve the creation of small compartments around areas of particular risk. Fire insurers also look more favourably on a broader form of compartmentation, like that required by the building regulations.

The purpose, of course, is to limit financial loss to the insurer and the client. The estimated maximum loss (EML) is calculated and defined as the maximum loss likely to be incurred in the event of a fire, given that suitable and approved fire protection arrangements are in place and effective.

Typical uses for compartmentation might be:

  • To separate a manufacturing process from the raw materials and finished goods areas (where the storage areas may have lower incidences of fire than the processing area and therefore if combined, the potential for loss would be significant).
  • To sub-divide warehousing spaces (to minimise loss potential of a large warehouse fire)
  • To separate sprinklered areas from un-sprinklered areas
  • To separate buildings which are likely to attract a high insurance premium from those which would normally be subject to a lower insurance premium, for example, manufacturing separated from an office.

Business interruption protection is another reason why compartmentation may be required. In the case of a data processing installation within a building, for instance, it is normally enclosed in fire-resisting construction to prevent fire spread into that area from the surrounding accommodation. It may be that the cost and availability of the hardware makes such a measure worthwhile both to the client and insurer, although it is increasingly common for the data itself to be of high value and not particularly the machinery, as most systems are continually backed up to the cloud.

Periods of fire resistance commonly range from 60 minutes to 240 minutes, depending upon the fire load of surrounding areas of accommodation.

In part 153 of this series, LWF will continue to look at structural fire protection and how it is utilised. 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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