A feasibility study was carried out By D Berry and M Green on behalf of the Fire Service Research and Training Trust, which established that there is a realistic solution to the provision of practical useful knowledge on the performance of a structure during a fire, with the clear potential to improve fire fighter safety.
This paper is about the next steps to implement the outcome of the feasibility study. It follows preliminary but positive discussions with organisations set out in Section 4. Ratification will be required via a start up meeting following discussions with the FSF on the 3rd Oct.
Improving fire fighter safety
Tragic events over recent years have reminded us that the Fire and Rescue Service is regularly called on to operate in environments with a higher than normal level of risk and the necessity to use specialist equipment and training, supported by appropriate information specific to the risk. This is recognised in the legislation that applies both specifically and generically to the Fire and Rescue Service: legislation such as The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004; the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999; and Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations are examples.
The Fire and Rescue Service continue to be vigilant in their compliance with such legislation so continuous planning and action are necessary to keep risks to an acceptable level. This implementation project is part of that process.
A vital requirement is that information, that affects fire fighter safety, is available when and where it is needed and, most importantly, in a form that is readily useable and that does not overload those that need the information.
Maintaining explicit knowledge of the performance of construction during fire by the FRS is not practical. Therefore an accessible implicit system to provide knowledge of that performance is essential to improve fire fighter safety.
The Fire Service Research and Training Trust therefore supported a Feasibility Study to explore the development of a ‘codified’, method to improve knowledge and reduce risks. The primary objective of the codified method proposed following the Feasibility Study is to provide information about the inherent risks associated with a range of construction types that will be readily available and easily understandable by fire fighters with appropriate training.
A strategic involvement for the FRS is proposed from the design stage, ensuring a clear link between early design decisions and the real risks associated with fighting fires. The intention is to make maximum use of current guidance and best practice, with no additional burden for the existing building design and approvals processes.
The codified method proposed incorporates: –
- Form of structure and its characteristics
- Robustness of the construction during fire
- The extent of fire load contained within the construction itself.
- Timing of last appraisal
- Recognition of special / iconic buildings
In addition to the above on-going Projects it will be essential to set up and populate a private web/administration site to facilitate the development of the codified method. This is essential to integrate and communicate the information and feedback that will be output from the above projects.
Future benefits of ownership and development are:
- Create a stronger strategic link between the fire and structural communities
- Improved training and certification
- Gives direction to future research and development
- Provides an avenue for feed back from real fires into the design process
- Opportunity for the FRS to interface with the early stages of the design process
- Improved planning for individual FRS’s
- Safer/ more effective Operating Procedures
- Improved FRS compliance with legislative requirements
- Improved designer/ occupier compliance with legislative requirements
- It gives a clear logic for the early involvement of the FRS in the design process
- Gives a focus for future training