The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety Management – Part 33

June 15, 2020 12:25 pm

In LWF’s 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 32, LWF looked at how a company might efficiently manage a fire emergency. In part 33, we consider other planning issues an organisation may need to address.

In addition to planning how to deal with a fire emergency itself, an organisation may consider putting plans into place to limit losses from a fire occurring and to reduce potential damage to the building structure and contents.

The plan contents may include actions to be taken before, during the fire emergency and after, and can feed into business continuity planning. The post-fire operation of the business should be considered in detail and may include actions such as back-ups of data, company documents and specialist programs on a remote server or in the cloud.

Depending upon the complexity of the organisation, the arrangements could be as simple as keeping a contact list at an off-site location, through to a more complex solution such as mirroring an entire computer system ready for deployment.

In the case of businesses holding stock on the premises, the business continuity planning may illustrate the need for active fire protection, such as sprinkler systems, or higher levels of passive fire protection, such as compartmentation.

Where an organisation is based in a heritage structure, many of the property protection options available will also be based on active fire protection measures. It is not usually practical to retro-actively install passive fire protection measures in a heritage building where changes to the building fabric are either undesirable or not allowed due to protected status.

In every case, where there are people on site, life safety measures must take precedence over property protection, although with sufficient planning and investment in fire safety measures, it is possible to protect both.

It is possible that a fire emergency could cause environmental issues and these too should be addressed. Potential damage through water run-off, for example, should be risk-assessed and mitigated. There have been situations in the past where, before it was banned, PFOS-containing foam was used by the Fire Service and it found its way into the water table, rendering the drinking water of an area unusable.

While the foam in question is now banned, it is important to consider the potential environmental impact of a fire at your premises and to try to avoid any lasting damage.

In part 34, LWF will discuss how changes to a building can affect the fire risk. 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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