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Fire Safety in blocks of flats – Hazards in the common parts – Part 12

Posted: 28/05/2015 13:49

The last few blogs have been looking at the importance of maintenance and testing of the various elements of the fire protection strategy within your blocks of flats. This week, we’re looking particularly at monitoring potential hazards in the common parts and reviewing and auditing fire safety standards.

While a formal fire safety inspection of a block of flats is a necessary occurrence and helps to identify any areas of fire protection needing attention, many of the daily activities of members of staff provide opportunities to stay on top of monitoring fire safety provision. The education of housing officers, maintenance crews, cleaners, other staff and regular contractors can ensure that they are ideally placed to notice changes which may be detrimental to the safety of the block, in case of fire.
In situations where those members of staff not directly associated with fire safety have been briefed and trained in how fire protection within a building works, it is usually the case that a higher standard of fire safety is maintained.
How frequently a formal fire safety inspection takes place depends on variables such as anti-social behaviour, or a ‘managed-use’ policy in communal areas. If, for instance, a formal fire safety inspection has been taking place on a six-monthly basis and it is found during the inspection that standards have slipped substantially during that time, the frequency of inspections should increase to reflect that.
The nature of hazards may not be permanent. Some hazards are temporary, and may be that a visitor’s pram or pushchair is being left outside a flat in a corridor, which could be a hazard if evacuation were to be required, or indeed, could be used to fuel a fire where arson is a concern. However infrequently a hazard is found, it should not be ignored because it is temporary. A solution should be found for the issue to ensure the life safety of the block’s occupants.
In addition to fire safety inspections, there is a legal requirement within the FSO that the fire risk assessment is reviewed as necessary. Equally, some organisations have an audit procedure to ensure compliance with legal obligations. An audit or review need not take place each time there is a change of occupancy or when a minor repair works takes place. Indeed, a fire risk assessment should be seen more as an ever-changing and reviewable document, where small changes are included and updated, but do not necessitate a full review. A system of dynamic risk assessment undertaken by those persons responsible for fire risk assessments is more useful on a day-to-day basis.
However, there should be periodic full reviews too, which are recorded and kept along with details of the actions taken to remedy any area of risk.
Next week’s blog will look at how alterations to the block can be detrimental to fire safety. In the meantime, if you have any queries about a project or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
The Complete Fire Safety Management Platform is the only fully comprehensive online fire risk assessment and fire risk management platform. Our aim, at CFSM, is to make the process of becoming fire safe, straightforward and, to use our expertise in fire risk assessment and fire safety management to guide you through each step, resulting in your premises meeting all legal, insurance and ethical fire safety considerations.


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