This blog was commissioned by Onetrace App ↗️
If you’re in charge of health and safety for your building, you might already know what the fire strategy document is, how important it is, and what it contains. Unfortunately, only a small population of the working force know what this is and recognise its importance. While fire strategy documents aren’t something that an active and passive fire protection software company does, we aim to help more people understand the fire industry in general as increasing awareness and education can increase safety levels overall.
Fire strategy documents are highly technical, complex documents that should only be drafted by competent and trained fire engineer or fire risk assessor, and preferably accredited depending on the complexity of the building. Under Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations when a building has been erected, extended or undergone a material change of use, a package of fire safety information must be assembled and given to the responsible person of the premises; and a fire strategy document is a good way of keeping all of this information together.
What does a fire strategy document contain?
Going beyond a fire escape plan, a fire strategy document has everything regarding fire protection, including means of escape, active and passive fire protection systems, internal and external fire spread, smoke control and facilities for firefighters. All parts of a building are analysed and recommendations are made when existing measures are not up to standard. These are the more common questions that a fire strategy document answers; this article intends to get more people thinking about fire safety, so that we can prevent future fire related tragedies.
It starts with a means of warning. If a fire broke out, how will people know? What is the standard of fire detection required for that building? Should they be connected with an alarm receiving centre that works directly with the fire and rescue services? When the alarm is raised, what automatic actions occur; do fire doors open for easy evacuation and smoke ventilation systems start to slow the spread of smoke?
If you have to escape, is the route sufficient for the volume of people in a building? Is the destination a place of ultimate safety for the intended capacity? Are there emergency lights along the entire route and sufficient escape signs leading everyone to safety?
Analysing potential fire spread, internally and externally, is a big part of a fire strategy document. When a building project is in the drawing stage, it’s a smart move to look at fire protection then, since the contractors will have the ability to add in passive fire protection systems, such as, fire resistant walls, floors and doors, and fire and smoke dampers. However, many older buildings did not have fire protection originally built in, so it had to be retrofitted during a more recent renovation. By looking at how a blaze can spread in a building, fire engineers and risk assessors can map safer escape routes and add in suppression and ventilation systems to aid with safer evacuation.
But potential fire spread mapping is not just about evacuation, it’s also about slowing a blaze down as much as possible, especially on certain floors or certain areas of a building. Should the blaze start internally, will it consume the entire building? Are there measures in place to keep the blaze on the affected floor without it travelling, or at least, what measures are put in place to slow it down? Buildings are affected externally as well as internally, so should the fire spread to the exterior of the building, will it crawl up the outside or spread across the roof? How will an external fire impact any surrounding buildings?
In the event that your building does have a fire, what access or facilities are in place for fire and rescue teams? Do you have sufficient vehicle access or fire hydrants? Does your building require fire mains? What plans are in place for fire and rescue teams?
As you can see, fire strategy documents are very important for fire protection and safety. It’s paramount that every building has one done, and those in charge of health and safety for that building have access to it and understand not just the fire escape routes but also how a fire could impact the building, as this information can be helpful in a fire emergency. It also ensures that someone else can be aware of fire and smoke alarms and more.