The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety on construction sites – Part 14

October 13, 2020 10:01 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 13, LWF discussed site management and communication. In part 14, we look at how individuals are held responsible for fire safety precautions in the eyes of the law, through the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and how any perceived dereliction of those duties can lead to criminal prosecution.

In the past, it proved difficult to ensure that organisations would give the necessary emphasis to fire precautions and the associated maintenance, when the ultimate responsibility lay with a corporate body. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 ensured that where a failure to provide adequate fire protection was found, an individual could be held responsible.

The ‘Responsible Person’ indicated in the Order is, by default, the most senior executive of the company. While the head of the company bears that responsibility, it is usual for them to employ a suitably experienced and qualified person to deal with fire safety, precautions and maintenance. If the role is of a suitably senior level and the person employed is appropriate for the role, then the responsibility may be either passed on to that individual, or shared.

On a construction site, senior level contractors must be held accountable for fires in their area of work and particularly when the fires result from processes undertaken under their control. For this reason, the contract documents should make clear the contractor’s responsibilities for provision and maintenance of fire precautions. A financial incentive relating to fire precautions and performance might also be included.

In order to ensure that any incidences of fire on a construction site are discovered and dealt with promptly, it may be necessary to employ trained persons to monitor the site and take action when a fire is detected. This method has proved most effective in the health-care sector, where alert persons are trained to respond to incidences of fire and the fires are tackled at a very early stage.

Depending upon the size of the construction project in hand, it may be that a private security contractor team could be sought, with the necessary skills to deal with fire when it occurs. Equally, suitably trained persons could be employed directly, with the aim of them responding to any fire incidents.

In part 15, LWF will continue to look at fire training and security on construction sites, including life safety issues and built-in fire precautions. 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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