Q: What is risk?
A: Risk can be defined as the combination of the likelihood of an accident occurrence and severity of the potential consequences.
Q: What is a risk assessment?
A: What is the likelihood of a fire event occurring within this space? What degree of loss (life and property) would be expected? What scale would this be measured on? How can we reduce the possibility of a fire occurrence, and eliminate the chance of any life or property loss? This is the information that a fire risk assessment will present.
A fire risk assessment is a tool used to assess the fire risks pertaining to a building or other structure. The assessment identifies the risks and present and provides actions and recommendations to mitigate those risks.
Q: How can risk be mitigated?
A: The first step toward mitigation is awareness. Know what the risks are, specific to your facility. Following that, there are 5 categories that can be examined or applied to reduce that risk. These categories are:
- Building construction type
- Fire alarm systems
- Fire suppression systems
- Building upgrades
- Water supply and reliability
Q: What areas of a facility pose the greatest risk?
A: When determining the areas of greatest risk we want to look at three factors:
- Ignition sources - What systems or processes create situations in which they may cause a fire or fuel to be ignited? Some of these might include: hot work operation (welding, cutting, etc.), cooking, or open flame processes.
- Fuel load - How much flammable and combustible materials are within the space? This can refer to the structure itself, stored items, or the buildings contents.
- Occupant load - How many people can potentially fill this space? How many people actually operate in the space? Are exiting and egress components adequate?
Q: What are the impacts of fire?
A: The United States Fire Administration has identified five impacts of fire:
- Economic impact - loss of production, loss of jobs, loss of organizational assets, increased insurance premiums
- Organizational impact - low employee morale and high turn-over, life loss of organizational leaders
- Legal impact - civil litigation and lawsuits, fines and fees
- Psychological impact - traumatic experience to those involved and witness to the incident
- Political impact - decreased property values, loss of respect within the community, increased regulation and regulatory oversight
Q: What are the critical components of a risk assessment?
A: The critical components of an assessment are the potential hazard factors and the risk reduction factors. The potential hazard factors are those items that pose the greatest risk of fire/life loss within a structure. The risk reduction factors are the items that can reduce the risk of fire/life loss.
Q: How is a risk assessment conducted?
A: We utilize a 3 step process to conduct risk assessments:
- Site visit and completion of the risk assessment field checklist.
- Input information into the digital pre-plan template.
- Completion of the fire risk assessment score-sheet matrix.
My book, Risk Assessment Guide for Aviation Facilities, is a complete reference manual for understanding risk, conducting a risk assessment, and applying assessment results to mitigate fire loss.
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