The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design –Risk Assessment Pitfalls– Part 73

March 28, 2022 11:09 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 72, LWF looked at examples of poor practices in risk assessment by considering using the cost of remedial works in a cost benefit analysis (CBA), before talking about the difference between cost and affordability. In part 73, we continue discussing the difference between cost and affordability in terms of unexpected expenditure which results from an unanticipated fire risk.

If a situation occurs where an unforeseen fire risk is discovered and the cost of reducing the risk to an acceptable level is not affordable under the stated budget for the project, it is sometimes possible to reduce the cost on other areas of the project which are not safety-related. For example, the budget for certain fixtures, fittings and finishes might be lowered in order to fulfil the required safety obligations.

In addition, it may be that the fire safety issue can be partly or wholly resolved by the introduction or amendment of management procedures. Fire safety management can be a very effective tool when handled correctly. It may also mean that levels of fire risk can be deemed acceptable, however, it would not be appropriate to place unreasonable demands on the building’s management or any future occupants of the building. The management procedures in question must be suitable for maintenance over the lifetime of the building. Equally, the building occupants must fully understand the reasoning behind the procedures to ensure they are achievable. The suggested fire safety management solution must be reviewed in detail with building users, occupiers, managers and clients to ensure all relevant parties are satisfied.

In terms of cost, it is important that any fire safety management solution is fully costed out. It may have an impact on the budget of the building occupant in terms of staffing levels, for instance, and it could be that this solution would cost far more than the additional capital expenditure required to resolve the physical fire risk at the outset.

In part 74 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will look at another risk assessment pitfall – the use of one piece of legislation to negate the requirements of another. 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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