The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety Management – Part 34

June 23, 2020 9:10 am

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 33, LWF considered other planning issues an organisation may need to address, including environmental issues. In part 34, we look at how making changes to a building can affect the fire risk.

The assessment of a building’s fire risk doesn’t end with the finishing of construction and an organisation moving in. The level of fire risk of a building will change with different occupancies and will also change when material changes are made to the building itself.

Indeed, fires are more likely to occur in a building when it is undergoing maintenance work or alterations, especially when the work is undertaken by an outside contractor. It is likely that the outside contractor is unaware of the fire safety arrangements in a building and is therefore unable to ensure they are not affected by the work they are undertaking, unless they are fully informed prior to work starting.

Any person or company whether employed by the building occupant or an outside contractor must be fully informed of the building’s fire safety arrangements and procedures to avoid fire, especially when their work may include ‘hot work’ such as welding or cutting.

Where maintenance work or any alterations are being undertaken in a building which will remain occupied, the safety of escape routes and operation of fire protection facilities must be ensured. It may be necessary to obtain approval from the local fire authority and building control, before work begins.

Building management should instruct and oversee the work of contractors and workers on site in maintaining fire safety and ensure that they follow appropriate fire safety practices. In addition to the risk posed by construction and maintenance on site to the building occupants, it is important that the contractors themselves are made aware of appropriate escape routes and arrangements in case of fire.

In some cases, documentation will be required and a permit system should be in place for any contractor carrying out structural work. Hot work, in particular, should be subject to specific approval and appropriate safeguarding. A thorough safety check must be made in the area where hot work is to be carried out, to check for potentially flammable materials and to ensure they are either removed or protected for the duration of the work. This process must also be undertaken after completion of works to ensure that no residual risks are still present.

In part 35, LWF will continue looking at the potential fire safety hazards of contractors and building work on your premises. 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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