Recent well-publicised events have resulted in fire safety coming under increasing scrutiny. As a result, clients now require even greater visibility of any potential fire safety issues within their real estate portfolio.
Fire strategies are an important element of fire safety management, although clarity is sometimes required regarding when a fire strategy is needed. Below is a brief guide to fire strategies, outlining what they are, when they are needed and the benefits.
What is a fire strategy?
It is crucial to have a clear understanding of exactly what a fire strategy is, as terminology varies greatly and fire strategies can easily be confused with other documents such as plans, procedures, policies, maintenance, assessments, etc. A fire strategy defines the fire safety objectives and performance requirements for a building and the methods by which these objectives will be provided to ensure the safety of occupants and property protection.
Therefore, in broad terms, it tells what you have and why. It can be as a result of a new build or an alteration or it can be retrospective for an existing building.
When is a fire strategy needed?
Broadly speaking, the S2 Partnership advises that a strategy is beneficial where the building in question:
- Has an atrium
- Has fire engineered solutions (smoke curtains, smoke extraction, sprinkler systems, etc), or
- Is a shopping mall.
A retrospective fire strategy is recommended when the original has either been lost or alterations have been made to the building over time.
Other buildings can also benefit from a retrospective strategy. If the fire safety measures in a building are not clearly understood and alterations have been made, a retrospective fire strategy can ensure that any changes that have been carried out will not have any impact on the safety of the occupants. This may be simple, or more complex, depending on the nature of the building, its use and occupancy.
What are the benefits of a fire strategy?
There are several benefits to be gained by having a fire strategy:
- Enables the responsible person to ensure a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is completed by providing fire risk assessors with the original design assumptions regarding fire safety
- Provides the required information when considering future alterations to buildings
- Enables the responsible person to effectively manage the ongoing fire safety requirements of the building by detailing assumptions or key components of the building’s design
- Provides information on any design restrictions, fire safety management assumptions and any necessary procedures
- Provides a degree of certainty in relation to fire safety and compliance (combined with a fire risk assessment) in the event of buying/ renting or selling property.
How the S2 Partnership can help
S2 Partnership’s dedicated team of fire safety experts provide retrospective fire strategies, risk assessments, training, guidance, fire engineering, and fire safety management systems to a range of organisations. We help clients develop robust fire safety solutions, providing the right support to protect lives, buildings, and businesses. This flexible service supports your existing competent person role, or even performs the role on your behalf. The S2 Partnership also carries out fire evacuation drills and training for fire wardens and marshals to ensure your building is prepared for emergencies. Contact us for further information.