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Fire Safety Management and Legislation

The design and development of a detailed fire safety strategy is a fundamental element in the designing of buildings and structures. The fire safety strategy must comply with the requirements of building regulations and meet the approval of Statutory Authorities (Communities and Local Government, 2007). This strategy must clearly elaborate how to use the various fire safety measures to attain achieve laid down fire safety objectives (Ndiovu, 2008. p1). Fire safety is among various fundamental safety issues that must be addressed in order to minimize the risks accompanied by the hazards of fire to personnel and/or the general public.

It is important to realize that these fire safety requirements cannot be met in isolation from other safety requirements especially in the construction industry, which this study will also explore. This means that collaboration between the particular parties involved, such as the; contractors, consultants and the Local Authority must be encouraged to confirm compliance to standards and legislations (Information Policy Team, 2006 p. 5). Anywhere Community Centre falls under the category of premises for lease. The fire safety responsibility in this case is the needs to be established and stated in the contract of hire.

There must be appropriate provision for early warning

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and means of escape from a building to a safe place that is outside the building rendering the building safe for use at all times (Communities and Local Government, 2007. p 15). Part 1: Means of Detection and Warning In Case of Fire There are elaborate provisions in the building regulation regarding means of detection and warning in case of fire in all buildings in the event of a fire outbreak. The selection of appropriate means of detection and warning system depends on the particular building in relation to its classification under the building regulations.

This takes into account the occupancy and the desired means of escape plan (Communities and Local Government, 2007. p 19). The Anywhere Community Centre falls under the classification of large shops and places of assembly. The Community Centre will need competent staff on matters of fire safety that will be responsible for the execution of pre-determined procedures for safe evacuation. The appropriate fire alarm system for the centre will be gadgets like discreet sounders, and pagers for the staff.

Full evacuation will be facilitated by sounders and messages via a public address system as well as visual and audible fire alarm system in the case of the deaf. The alarm systems must comply with BS 5839-1. In clause 18 of the BS 5839-1:2002 there is provisions for the appropriate fire alarm systems for the deaf and persons with impaired hearing. As a place for assembly, the community centre has a likelihood of hosting people in this category. Given the likelihood of a fire outbreak in an unoccupied part of the Community Centre, there is need to install automatic fire detectors and alarms as per BS 5839-1.

Once the Community centre installs the appropriate fire detection and warning system an installation and commissioning certificate must be obtained from the relevant authorities. The fire protection devises must comply with standards provided by the building control bodies (Communities and Local Government, 2007. p 11). In order for the Centre to attain a more reliable and efficient fire warning and alarm system, there needs an interface comprised of the fire alarm, fire detection and access control system could be implemented. Provision of Means of Escape at all Time

In the designing of means of escape it is important to bear in mind that persons in the building in the event of fire outbreak should be able to make it to a safe place. The community centre is an assembly building and it is important to note that unique problems arise when access to safety is inhibited by fixed seating arrangements in a building. The recommended standards in relation to means of escape appropriate for the Community Centre are found in section 3 and 5 of BS 5588-6:1991 (Communities and Local Government, 2007. p 13). The escape routes must be sufficient in number and able to hold the appropriate capacity.

They must be strategically located in the building and easily accessible . The escape routes must also be fire resistant, well lit and conspicuously signed. These considerations are necessary in order to reduce the reliance on fire and rescue service in the event if a fire. The Community Centre itself needs adequate structural fire protection and fire precautionary measures. To calculate the population density or occupant capacity of the community centre, divide the area of spaces/rooms by the floor space specified under the building regulation (Communities and Local Government, 2007.

p 135). The pop density =287. 36. Internal and External Fire Spread The building regulations stipulate that to prevent fire from spreading within the building. The internal walls of the building must be able to sufficiently resist the spreading of the fire over the surfaces and in case the walls ignite have the structural properties to slow down the spread (Communities and Local Government, 2007. p 62). For the external spread the building regulation stipulate that the external walls must resist the spreading of the fire to adjoining buildings.

The roof must also resist the spreading of the fire to adjoining buildings roofs (Communities and Local Government, 2007. p 91). Part 2: Fire Safety Management Strategy The basis of a fire safety strategy is the risk assessment of the Anywhere Community Centre. This focuses on three basic objectives namely; to ensure that the fire safety procedures, prevention measures, and fire precautions (plans, systems and equipment) are available and compliant to the required standards in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Basically this is done with focus to; identifying the fire hazards, minimizing the risk of the identified hazards to the least acceptable standard, to establish the physical, tangible precautions and management policies that are necessary in providing maximum safety in case of a fire outbreak. The fire safety strategy takes into consideration the entire layout of the building including outdoor locations, as well as those rooms and areas within the vicinity of the building. The Community centre is likely to be used by people who have various disabilities, whose limitations must be factored in fire safety strategy.

This fire safety strategy has five basic steps; the first step is the identification of the fire hazards. This is followed by identification of persons at risk. Then we have evaluate the risk of fire outbreak and the risk to people, remove or reduce fire hazards, remove, reduce, and protect people from the risks. Record, plan, inform and training follows, and finally review (Information Policy Team, 2006 p. 11). Fist step is to identify the fire hazards. The Centre has a kitchen, oil store and a boiler room, although the assessment must take into consideration all the rooms and the outdoor area, these are high risk rooms.

These rooms are likely sources of fuel and heat. The handling of fuels like liquefied petroleum gas and other flammable oils and chemicals should be in conformity to reasonable standards. Other sources of fuel at the Centre may include; the soft wood, packaging an wrapping materials, fireworks, carpeting, upholstered seating and similar materials, flammable chemicals such as cleaning, painting and other flammable liquid-based products. Sources of ignition should always be controlled.

These sources of ignition include smokers’ materials, cooking and electrical equipment, gas, oil-fired heaters, faulty electrical equipment and installations, and naked flames. Sources of oxygen include the natural flow of air through various openings, cylinders and fireworks. The Centre the above sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen must be analysed and their current and potential existence within the precincts of the Centre noted in a checklist (Information Policy Team, 2006 p. 14). The second step is to identify the persons who may be at risk in event of a fire outbreak.

This includes the staff at the Centre and people who may use the Centre for their various functions within special emphasis on the physically challenged. Identify reasons as to why these persons are at risk. Finally take note of the findings in a checklist. Third step is to evaluate the risk of a fire outbreak. The risks here will be low if ignition sources and combustible materials are minimized at the Centre. In the evaluation of the possibility of fire outbreak it is important to remember that fires start by accidents, acts or omission and deliberately as in the case of arson.

In evaluating the risk to persons in the Community Centre it is important to consider that fire spreads by convection, conduction and radiation. The means of escape and other fire precautions must be sufficient to ensure minimal casualties in the case of fire outbreak. Consider the following situations in event of a fire occurrence; Fire outbreak within the stage room, hall or the chapel when fully occupied, followed by the entrance lounge or the office next to the chapel, as potential traps since they are the only exits from the building.

The ease by which the fire would spread because of combustible structural elements such as the softwood used in the roofing and the floor and lastly the state of the installations of fire precaution equipments (Information Policy Team, 2006 p. 17). In light of the above mentioned evaluations it will now be prudent to remove or reduce the risks and hazards. The identified sources of ignition, fuel and sources of oxygen should be replaced with safer alternatives or be entirely removed. After removing and reducing the identified risks it will be in order to establish the fire protection measures to be adopted by the Centre.

This will entail installation of early warning systems and escape routes in the event of fire outbreak. This will be done by; The use of automatic early warning systems, revision of the layout of the Community Centre to ensure the travel distances comply to the recommendations of the building regulations (Information Policy Team, 2006 p. 65), removal or reduction of the combustible materials including sources of ignition, the Centre must control the number of persons in the building at any particular time and finally the staff at the centre must be trained in basic fire safety procedures.

The fourth step is to document the findings of the risk assessment as well as the responses/actions taken. The core findings should include; fire hazards identified, the course of action to remove or reduce the probability of fire outbreak, the identified list/class of persons who may be at risk, an emergency plan showing what should be done in event of fire, the training needs of the Centre. Any consultations will be factored in this section. As part of an ongoing review a graphic representation of the Centre will assist in cross checking the fire precautions.

The outcome of the risk assessment will assist in strategizing for the emergency plan, training needs and the level of coordination and consultations necessary with relevant authorities. A checklist will assist in consolidating the information gathered in this step. The last step is the review. The checklists used should be synchronized to come up with a comprehensive fire safety strategy. Reviewing of the fire risk assessment findings and implementation must be regularly done to ensure compliance to recommended standards and advice on necessary changes.

The reasons for review are based on any substantial changes within the Community Centre and consulting with the relevant authorities is important. The introduction of any significant change should be subject to assessment of its potential risk (Information Policy Team, 2006 p. 38) References OPSI, Information Policy Team, 2006, Fire Safety risk assessment: Small and Medium Places of Assembly, Department for Communities and Local Government Publications Communities and Local Government, 2007, The Building Regulations 2000; Fire Safety. NBS Ndiovu, S. , 2008, Fire Safety Management and Legislation

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