The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Risk Assessment Pitfalls – Part 71

March 14, 2022 12:15 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 70, LWF discussed potential risk assessment pitfalls. In part 71, we continue to look at examples of poor practices in risk assessment and how to avoid them by considering the issues when attempting to remove a fire protection method from an existing building.

During the risk assessment process, it is not generally acceptable to recommend the removal of existing fire protection methods based on the fact that the cost of ongoing maintenance or renewal is grossly disproportionate to the risk reduction benefit achieved. This might be thought of as a ‘Reverse ALARP’.

There is a responsibility to maintain existing fire protection measures, because they are in place to reduce the risk level to that which was considered acceptable, at the time of installation. This has established a particular level of fire risk and the removal would, by necessity, increase that risk level and it would no longer be as low as reasonably possible (ALARP).

When a particular fire protection method is an issue to maintain, there are ways of considering its removal and this must be thoroughly evaluated during the fire risk assessment. In order for it to be removed, one or more of the following should apply:

  • The risk reduction measure is to address a hazard that is no longer present on the premises
  • Alternative risk reduction measures/fire protection measures will be put into place and maintained which results in the risk level not being increased, or being actively decreased.
  • The removal of the risk reduction measure must not increase risk beyond that which would be achieved by the application of current statutory guidelines and good practice.

The primary focus of any fire risk assessment must be to establish an acceptable fire safety level and not to reduce costs, even though cost reduction can be a consideration when deciding what measures should be used and how they are achieved.

In part 72 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue to look at examples of poor practices in risk assessment by discussing the use of CBA and using the cost of remedial works. 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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