The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Risk Assessment & Fire Engineering – Part 58

December 6, 2021 12:04 pm

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 57, LWF considered the definition of the acceptability criteria of a risk assessment. In part 58, we look at the assessment techniques used to assess fire risk.

Fire risk can often be assessed by using a simple approach relevant to industry good practice. An assessor, prior to starting a risk assessment, should ascertain whether relevant industry good practice exits and if it does, whether nor not it can be applied in a relatively straightforward manner. Where it can be done, it generally should be, except in certain circumstances:

  • Where if it were to be applied to existing premises, the cost of compliance would be grossly disproportionate to the fire risk reduction achieved.
  • Where the situation has inherently significantly lower or greater fire risk than the circumstances envisaged in the good practice.
  • Where there are alternative means of controlling the risks to a comparable or better level, already in place.

The ‘Good Practice’ referenced may encompass industry and regulatory codes, approved codes of practice and regulatory guides, as well as practices and guidance adopted by similar organisations in comparable situations.

In terms of life safety, good practice reflects the minimum expectations of society and is of use to those who use it to assess risk and those who will assess risk in other ways, either qualitatively or quantitatively.

Demonstrating a level of risk equivalent to that represented by the application of good practice in comparable premises is normally considered sufficient and acceptable. Designs or management practices resulting in a level of risk higher than good practice allows are less likely to be acceptable.

Where relevant good practice exists and is adopted for all reasonably foreseeable hazards, it is unlikely that detailed evaluation of risk is required, as the risk assessment duty is discharged by the adopted of good practice.

It is important that the good practice methods adopted are appropriate to the activities under consideration, up to date and able to cover all significant fire risks in the given circumstances.

In part 59 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will begin to discuss Qualitative Risk Assessment. 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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