The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Risk Assessment & Fire Engineering – Part 52

October 25, 2021 11:50 am

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 51, LWF began to look at how risk assessment works in the development of fire engineering designs. In part 52, we continue discussing the use of risk assessment as part of a fire engineered design for a building.

A risk assessment applied to a fire engineered design, once completed, will present findings which can be used to ascertain if the current fire protection provision of a building is sufficient to control fire risks, or whether additional risk reduction methods are required. The risk assessment process can also be used to compare different risk control and reduction scenarios and therefore allows the optimal design solution or most effective fire management system to be chosen.

A risk assessment should never be carried out in order to support a decision already made. Risk assessment is to be used as input into the decision-making process and not output from that process – an accepted distinction made in ‘Pitfalls in Risk Assessment – Examples from the UK’.

Risk assessment methodologies vary and can include very simple qualitative analysis – simple checklists, for example. Quantitative risk analysis (QRA) is more complex and may be applied in environments such as nuclear, transport and chemical processing industries. Complexity does not always equate to thorough and appropriate. Where it is necessary to simply show compliance to industry good practice, a simple checklist may be all that is required. However, a more complex environment often requires a more in-depth method of analysis.

The approaches to risk assessment may vary, but are likely to involve the following stages:

  • Hazard identification
  • Identification of consequences and estimation of likelihood
  • Risk evaluation
  • Action taken to reduce risk to an acceptable level
  • Findings are recorded
  • Situation is monitored and reviewed as appropriate

The scope and purpose of the assessment should be ascertained and detailed prior to commencement and, where appropriate, all relevant parties should agree to the terms. Such parties may include clients, building owners, managers, regulators and insurers.

In part 53 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue to discuss risk assessment and how it should be applied to fire engineering designs. 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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