The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety Management – Part 25

April 20, 2020 11:46 am

In LWFs Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at those activities of a company which can be classed as fire safety management. In part 24, LWF discussed how the fire safety manager should work to ensure fire safety systems respond properly in a fire emergency. In part 25, we look at fire safety maintenance and testing.

The fire safety manager, or person of equivalent responsibilities and who has sufficient and adequate training, is responsible for the programme of inspection, maintenance and testing of all fire safety equipment. Such checks and tests are essential for the safety of building occupants.

The maintenance schedule will be laid out in the relevant British Standards or manufacturer’s instructions and should be carried out at the recommended intervals. The inspection and testing of all equipment or precautions must be carried out by competent persons.

The term ‘fire safety equipment’ covers the following fire safety systems –

– Fire detection and fire alarm systems
– Emergency lighting systems
– Fire suppression systems (such as sprinklers or local Ansul type systems)
– Smoke control systems (such as mechanical ventilation)
– Means of escape
– Structural and/or passive fire protection
– Firefighters provisions (such as dry risers, hydrants, firefighting lifts, etc.)
– Control systems and power supplies, including emergency power systems
– Access to the building and surround
– Two-way Communications Systems, e.g. disabled refuge communication systems.

Where buildings are open to members of the public, the responsible person must ensure that a daily visual check of all fire precautions is undertaken prior to allowing access.

The fire safety manager must also be aware that any problems or failures of any part of the fire safety provisions could compromise the whole fire safety strategy for the premises and put lives at risk.

While all fire safety systems must be tested individually, some elements are interdependent and so should be tested collectively too, to show satisfactory interfacing, interlinking and operation.

Where alterations or modifications to an existing system are required, they should be carried out only through consultation with the enforcing authority and, where it is possible, the original system designer, installer or other qualified person. This is particularly important where the system interconnects and/or relies on another systems.

The fire safety manager must have an awareness that fire safety equipment may be a hazard in itself. Poorly-maintained fire doors, for example, can cause injury to persons on the premises. Where necessary, equipment should be replaced on a like-for-like basis, or offer the same or an increased level of protection.

Additionally, any repairs or modifications to the structure of the building should ensure that all passive fire protection systems in place are protected. The upkeep of furniture, furnishings, décor and equipment within the building is also an important fire safety consideration.

The fire safety manager must keep a record of all tests, checks, any remedial works and all maintenance carried out within the fire safety logbook.

In part 26, LWF will look at planning for a fire emergency. 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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