Building Fire Safety Risks: 5 steps from Negligence to Management

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The nature of Building Fire Safety risks is changing across the world. It’s getting unexpected and their effects are becoming more profound. Risks need to be taken more seriously. Here is how to do it.


uilding Fire Safety related risks pose a requirement of being regularly assessed and understood, particularly for Commercial and High Rise Building Fire Safety risks.

The risk of ‘Fire’ has been ranked fifth, up by three positions from last year’s ranking by India Risk Survey 2017 Report – FICCI & Pinkerton.According to NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), a total of 18,450 cases of fire accidents were reported in India in 2015, with 1,193 persons injured and 17,700 killed.

The cause-wise analysis of fire accidents concluded that 42.1% of deaths were related to building fire and accidents in residential buildings. After road accidents & drowning, accidental fires cause most unnatural deaths in India..

Most of the High Rise Building Fire Safety related accidents have been reported (Other than residential buildings) in factories, commercial buildings, hospitals and schools. Business leadership is expected to devise fire risk-mitigation strategies in order to create a secure business environment. This strategy should be in line with the overall organizational HIRA Safety. It can be achieved by covering the following milestones:

Milestone 1:

Management attention and ownership towards fire risk

Milestone 2:

Conduct a detailed Building Fire Safety Risk Assessment

Step 1: Building Fire Safety – Identify the hazards

Look for sources of heat, fuel & oxygen which together might lead to a fire.

In the case of building fire safety, one needs to start by identifying the sources of the following:

  • Ignition such as naked flames, electric sparks, heaters or some commercial processes
  • Fuel such as built-up waste, display materials, textiles or overstocked products
  • Oxygen

One should also consider what existing measures are in place to control the building fire safety related hazards.

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Step 2: Building Fire Safety – Identify the people at risk

One shall need to identify anyone who may be affected during any building fire, such as:

  • People working near to fire hazards
  • People working alone or in isolated areas (i.e. Roof spaces or store rooms)
  • Maintenance staff, contractors, passers-by
  • People present outside normal working hours such as cleaners & security guards
  • Visitors and members of the public
  • Individuals & groups who may be especially at risk, e.g. young or inexperienced workers, people with mobility or sensory impairment, pregnant workers, children or parents with babies, elderly or infirm people etc.


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Step 3: Building Fire Safety – Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from fire risk

This involves evaluating the level of risk in one’s premises.

  • Risk of a fire occurring

  • Risk to people from fire

Remove or reduce building fire hazards

Remove or reduce the risks to people (building occupancy)

One should remove or reduce any fire hazards within the building, where possible and reduce any risks one has identified. For example:

  • Replace highly flammable materials with less flammable ones
  • Make sure to separate flammable materials from sources of ignition
  • Have a no smoking policy
  • When one has reduced the risks as far as possible, he must assess any risk that is left and decide whether there are any further measures he needs to take to make sure to provide a reasonable level of fire safety. The evaluation of risk will take account of the fire risk assessor’s opinion of the likelihood of fire, the extent of injury that could occur and the number of people who could be affected.

Step 4: Building Fire Safety – Record, plan, instruct, inform & train

It is always good practice to record the significant findings of the Fire Risk Assessment, the steps that one has already taken and those that he plans to take in order to reduce the risk. In many cases, the law requires that the significant findings of the fire risk assessment and details of those persons especially at risk are recorded.

  • Record significant findings and actions are taken to remove/reduce the building fire safety risks

  • Develop and implement an appropriate emergency plan for the building

  • Inform and instruct relevant persons on the actions to be taken in the event of a building fire

  • Deliver training to building employees as well as occupants, particularly those with specific duties

Step 5: Building Fire Safety – Regularly review the fire risk assessment

  • Whenever one has cause to consider it is no longer valid, e.g. after a significant incident or “near miss”
  • In case of a significant change in the workplace, e.g. changes to plant, equipment, processes, or substances used leading to change in fire load, etc.
  • If there has been a significant change in the number, character or needs of persons who use the building fire safety related protective measures
  • The risk assessment should identify a specific range of protective measures that are appropriate for the particular type of building premises and usage of the premises.

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