Fire Risk FAQ

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:
  1. Building construction type
  2. Fire alarm systems
  3. Fire suppression systems
  4. Building upgrades
  5. 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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:
  1. Economic impact - loss of production, loss of jobs, loss of organizational assets, increased insurance premiums
  2. Organizational impact - low employee morale and high turn-over, life loss of organizational leaders
  3. Legal impact - civil litigation and lawsuits, fines and fees
  4. Psychological impact - traumatic experience to those involved and witness to the incident
  5. 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:
  1. Site visit and completion of the risk assessment field checklist.
  2. Input information into the digital pre-plan template.
  3. 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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