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Fire Prevention In Refurbishment Activities

HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction supports those with legal responsibilities under Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM15) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), and assists site managers in the day-to-day management of fire risks on site.

As the Client your project could involve major refurbishment and as such a Fire Strategy may be appropriate. The Fire Strategy will detail the type of fire safety facilities that are currently incorporated within the building, along with their respective specifications, and depending upon the brief for the Fire Strategy consider the phases of the project and how FIRE as a risk can be eliminated, reduced or controlled through design. CDM15 – Regulation 9(3) & 9(4) covers the process of Design Risk Management (DRM). Planning of the refurbishment project in terms of CDM15 is known as the pre-construction phase and this is where DRM is considered and should address the sequencing of the activities to maintain the buildings compartmentation, fire resistance, protection of elements of structure, fire stopping, cavity barriers and fire suppressant systems. Your DRM process will enable fundamental decisions to be taken at an early stage and these can be recorded in the Design Risk Register. The design decisions and the remaining residual risks can then be used by the Principal Contractor during the construction phase of the project. When the project moves to construction phase the Principal Contractor will require an FSO Fire Risk Assessment (FRA):

  • Step 1 – identify the hazards.
  • Step 2 – identify people at risk.
  • Step 3 – evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk.
  • Step 4 – record, plan, inform, instruct and train.
  • Step 5 – review.

The Management of the requirements of the FRA can be challenging. For example, if you are adding or altering a fire staircase and temporary fire doors are to be made up on site as an interim measure – these doors need to be commissioned in the same way as the planned fire door set. As the Client you may consider auditing the Fire Risk Assessment and fire risk management arrangements for the refurbishment project as it progresses.

A Fire Fighter’s Story

“I previously worked in the Fire & Rescue Service and attended an incident in a multi-story city centre office complex where a member of the public found smoke in the complex lobby and called 999. The reason they dialled 999 was they had operated the manual fire alarm; however, it did not activate. When we attended we had a Christmas office party in full flow on the 11th floor, and on the top floor was a Meteorological Centre operating 24/7 who were resistant to evacuating. The automatic and manual alarm system had been disconnected as part of a building upgrade, however there was no means of temporary reinstating the system or provision of a stand-by system. The fire was on the 8th floor and we were able to quickly control the situation; and the incident was passed to the Fire Safety Enforcement Team. I share this experience as refurbishment projects can and do go wrong if not planned and organised effectively.”

Reference Link : HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction


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