Facilities management

In short, the FM professional needs to obtain

as much information as possible about the fire engineering strategy of the building, if only to prioritise the importance of preventative maintenance for different building systems. This applies even where the FM contractor isn’t directly involved with the FRAs for a building. Of course, in one sense they will always have some involvement, to ensure that fire safety is appropriately assessed and protected for their own staff and contractors.

Managing contractors

One practical issue for the FM professional is how fire safety contractors are managed on a site. There are those who may be described as the primary contractors, for example those dealing with the maintenance of fire detection systems, including control panels. There could be contractors who inspect fire extinguishers or other firefighting systems which also need regular maintenance.

Ensuring these contractors meet their appointments – and then properly document their inspections and any remedial work – is a high priority. This may sound obvious but the serious consequences of not ensuring that these are completed on time can be lost within a wider range of preventative maintenance routines to be monitored. The other group of contractors might be described as secondary to fire safety, but can have serious implications for the fire strategy of

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the building. These include those involved in electrical, gas, air conditioning and ventilation management. Their work can have a serious influence on the level of fire risk in a building, and this means their inspections need to be carried out as scheduled, as – for example – slippage can have a wider safety implication. The same cautionary note can apply to fire drills and cannot be something that just drifts onto the next scheduled date. It is common to find all manner of reasons to delay them, but this needs the formal acceptance of all parties responsible for fire safety.

Running away?

On some sites, especially those which have stormwater drainage, and where gulleys lead to natural egress points, such as fields or rivers rather than just to mains drainage, fire water runoff should be a consideration by the FM contractor. Usually, the occupier of the site is responsible for fire water runoff as a pollutant rather than the fire and rescue service (FRS) as is sometimes imagined. FRAs for the site should consider if there is any particular environmental risk from fire water runoff and, if so, how it would be mitigated. At a very high risk site, various engineering solutions might be proposed, including interceptor tanks or bunds. In any event, a drainage plan needs to be created if one cannot be found, to properly assess and mitigate the risk. The advice of the FM professional is likely to be sought on this point.

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