The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Firefighting & The Fire Service – Part 17

December 6, 2018 1:01 pm

In LWF’s fire engineering blog series for Architects and others in the business of building design, we have been looking at firefighting. In part 16, we discussed first-aid firefighting by the occupancy and the use of hose reels to do so. In part 17, we will begin to look at firefighting from the point of view of the Fire Services.


The particular objectives of the Fire Service in a given situation will be decided upon arrival at a fire situation will be based on the situation, how fast the fire is developing and how quickly they can undertake firefighting actions.

The general objectives will be something along these lines:


 Assessment of the situation

 Rescues to be carried out

 Pinpoint the fire

 Halt the spread of fire

 Guard against potential spread

 Watch other areas

 Surround the fire

 Extinguish the fire


Fire Services will often approach a situation from one of three tactical ‘modes’ which are helpful when managing an incident effectively:


Offensive Mode – where it is required for the fire to be fought aggressively inside the building.


Defensive Mode – commonly where the fire is being fought from outside the building to protect exposures.


Transitional Mode – Where both offensive and defensive modes are in operation in different sectors, or where incident management changes from one mode to the other.


It is possible to see from the descriptions of tactical modes that if property protection is an organisational objective, the aim should be to provide an environment within the building that enables the firefighters to work in offensive mode inside the building, to avoid the fire spreading to other areas of the property. In cases where the fire is beyond the point where the Fire Services can go into the building, it may not be possible to save the building (or compartment) in which the fire originated.


Some of the elements which could be included in an organisation’s fire prevention and protection arsenal to help with increasing the chances of limited damage to the property include:


Automatic fire detection and alarm system – for early notification and zoning of fire


Sprinkler Systems – to suppress the fire at source


Compartmentation – Well-maintained compartmentation helps avoid the spread of fire


Good practice – keeping routes clear, well-kept storage and avoidance of hazardous materials


Information – a pre-prepared pack including layout of building, water mains and information about the area of fire origin.


In part 18 of this series, LWF will look at the tactical practices undertaken by the Fire Services when attending a fire in a building. 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 Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.


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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