Document Type

Article

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

Architecture engineering, Construction engineering, Public and environmental health

Publication Details

Fire Prevention and Fire Engineers Journal, 2003

Abstract

It is now widely considered as good practice to include fire risk assessment techniques when developing a fire risk management system. However there is little guidance as to how to evaluate the influence of organisational culture and human behaviour on the resultant level of fire safety. Since most accidents are caused by the failure of management systems, quantified risk assessment must take into account local safety management practices, or else it will not provide reliable information”.

This study tries to address this issue by developing a new fire risk assessment technique for assessing the fire safety management system of a multi-site, third level educational organisation .

Information gathering

The new technique used the traditional risk assessment technique of knowledge based surveying, to assess the building fabric in relation to relevant legislation and codes of practice.

In addition various psychometric techniques were used to elicit data on the existing fire safety management system. These included: semi-structured interviews with management; and a questionnaire on fire safety attitudes, culture, behaviour and knowledge administered to 125 employees within the buildings concerned.

The building survey as expected, highlighted deficiencies in the building fabric with regard to passive and active fire safety elements. For example, fire doors were in need of adjustment, and faulty maintained exit directional signs needed to be corrected.

The psychometric survey elicited information on the way fire safety management was conducted within the buildings. Thus information on fire safety policy, staff involvement, training, occupant behaviour, and emergency procedures was obtained.

Together the surveys enable a better analysis of the existing fire safety management approaches. Hence this combined technique offers the potential of a more beneficial outcome when carrying out fire risk assessments. The technique does entail more time and effort by the assessor. However this is considered justifiable in terms of the increased level of data produced on the efficacy of existing fire safety management systems.