Priorities for Fire Safety

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In order to promote an holistic approach to fire safety it is important to consider some key points such as, building design, adopting a systems based approach to testing construction products and taking account of fire risk in the context of the building in use.

A building is made up of many different products, both combustible and non-combustible, which when combined as a system can deliver high fire safety performance.  Therefore analysing only the individual performance of each component does not give an accurate picture of its overall performance when combined with other products to make a system.

There are some important considerations to be made when specifying and installing products, such as ensuring that:

  • Products and systems are used in accordance with relevant regulations, standards and manufacturers’ guidelines.
  • The products specified are actually used and are not substituted for apparently similar products which can lead to significant unintended consequences.
  • That products are installed by a competent workforce and that installations are checked on site to ensure that the work has been carried out correctly.

Fire risk is as much about lifestyle and use of a building as it is about the construction of the building.  Statistically most fires in buildings start with cooking appliances or electrical equipment.  However, no design can fully accommodate the way that people use buildings now or in the future.

To mitigate this, assessing fire risks and evaluating appropriate fire prevention measures is important.  This will include the design of the building as well as a better understanding of behavioural risk.  These may require fire safety strategies and measures including product and electrical safety as well as education around occupant behaviour, smoking and cooking.