The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – FSO and Enforcement – Part 81

April 19, 2022 12:08 pm

LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals aims to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 80 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF considered the role of Fire Authorities and their attitude to unwanted fire signals. In part 81, we discuss ‘as low as reasonably possible’ (ALARP) and how it is used in assessing the adequacy of fire precautions.

The term ‘as low as reasonably possible’ (ALARP) relates to the assessment of adequacy of fire precautions in premises and the necessity of compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

It is defined as ‘a concept where risks should continue to be reduced until you reach a point where the cost and effort to reduce the risk further would be grossly disproportionate to the benefit achieved’.

HTM 05-03 Part B, ‘Fire detection and alarm systems’ specifies an L1 standard (with L2 used for treatment centres) for automatic fire detection and alarms in healthcare buildings. It is unacceptable to provide automatic detection systems to compensate for another deficiency in fire protection or fire precautions.

L1 systems are considered best practice by the Fire Authorities and are to be attained within a time period agreed with the Fire Authority in premises where a fire risk assessment has indicated improved protection is required, e.g. in older premises.

The benefits of such a system far outweigh the upheaval and cost of retro-fitting into an older building. Early warning is provided of a fire, allowing the safe evacuation of patients, staff and members of the public. When a decision is to be made and ALARP is to be used, the benefits should be considered against whether or not the cost is grossly disproportionate.

The responsible person (as defined in the Fire Safety Order) should identify and respond to any significant fire risk. When such is identified, an action plan with realistic timescales should be put into place and agreed with the Fire Authority. The onus falls to the responsible person to show what is not ‘reasonably practicable’.

When the Fire Authority assesses the healthcare building and its fire safety provision, along with the adequacy of the proposed automatic fire detection system, they will consider all relevant issues, such as the standard of other fire precautions and fire safety management, including sprinklers and sub-compartmentation for instance.

In Part 82 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will look at fire detection, both by observation and fire detection systems. 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 LWF on freephone 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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