Friday, 25 October 2013

The road to fire safety resilience

Russ Timpson

The key messages when it comes to fire safety resilience are that:

  • Prescriptive approaches to fire risk mitigation are reactive, cumbersome and commercially irrelevant
  • Fire risk ownership will only be achieved through linkage to business imperatives such as resilience, supply chain integrity and insurance
  • Tools and techniques do exist to assist those tasked with risk ownership to understand the scope and scale of the risks involved

The next step within the risk management community is to migrate from essentially a legislation based compliance and reactive role with regard to fire, to one of adding value to any given undertaking by embracing the principles of resilience.

Resilience has been defined as ‘the ability of an organization to absorb, respond and recover from disruptions’ (Business Continuity Institute). In relative terms the ‘bar’ for fire risk mitigation in a prescriptive regime must be set very low in order to allow for generic application. Whereas, if the imperative for resilience is applied and linked to commercial priorities such as insurance and supply chain integrity, the requirement must be higher and more relevant.

My presentation at the BCM World Conference will seek to explore the historic model for fire risk mitigation; code compliance and enforcement. This will include an analysis of the relative merits and drawbacks of this approach with commentary. An overview of the current movement towards ‘fire risk assessment’ and risk ownership by employers and building owners in the UK will also be discussed with recent case studies. I will also describe the commercial approach to fire risk mitigation and give insight to the role of insurance underwriters and potential loss calculations.

This has been successfully achieved by employing a derivation of the ‘HAZOP’ (Hazard and Operability Study) from the process industries such as petrochemical and pharmaceutical. The output from this assessment is a fire risk ‘contour’ map of a given building combined with a ‘criticality index’ for given areas, plant and systems.

We need to challenge existing thinking in the risk management community, to promote closer understanding of the commercial environment. With ever increasing fiscal pressures on tax funded fire safety enforcement agencies, there must be informed thinking on engagement with building and business owners.

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink” – however, you can put a lot of salt in its foodbag.

Russ will be discussing the issue of fire safety resilience during his Practitioner Presentation at the BCM World Conference. This will be part of the free seminar programme within the exhibition.

1 comment:

  1. Preventive measures should be taken by the people so that no fire starts in the first place. According to sources, most houses caught on fire because of the fault home appliances, poor electricity wiring etc. Thanks a lot for sharing this article. I have found it pretty interesting and informative.

    Arnold Brame
    Fire Risk Assessment Training