The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety Management – Part 18

March 2, 2020 2:16 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at the activities of a company which are classed as fire safety management. In part 17, we looked at some responsibilities held by the fire safety manager which relate to larger buildings and complexes. In part 18, we discuss effective communication and its importance to fire safety management.
Efficient communication and systems are essential for effective fire safety management. In a large and complex building which could be crowded with people, there is a considerable potential for loss of life in a fire situation.

It is imperative, therefore, that management procedures and practices are implemented to the highest possible standard. The fire safety manager is responsible for ensuring all necessary and appropriate communication systems are in place to deal with any fire incident.
For example, in a large indoor shopping complex there may be many different businesses operating, all of whom will have members of staff on site and a large number of people shopping. Initial fire signals are likely to be silent in the public areas to allow facility staff to investigate the alarm before raising a more widespread alarm. It wouldn’t be appropriate to evacuate the whole building of thousands of people because one person had smoked a cigarette in a forbidden area which had triggered a smoke alarm.

In the same scenario, a fire may have started in a litter bin and while this is a fire situation and would need immediate attention in order to avoid fire spread, it is possible that with effective and immediate communications and action, the fire could be put out by a trained member of staff using an extinguisher.

It is important, therefore, that fire safety equipment and the chain of command are both in place and allow decisions to be taken by staff in the control room based on the information they have. The relevant information should include contingency planning, details of absent staff or equipment failure.

Effective communication allows the correct decisions to be made about fire safety issues in a building and for the required action to be taken without delay or unnecessary upheaval.

In part 19, LWF will continue looking at communication, including the communication structure, systems, testing, special provisions and contingency planning. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

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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