Determination of the most appropriate level is based upon the fire risk profile of the premises in question.
BS 9997:2017 Fire Risk Management Systems. Requirements with Guidance for Use applies the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” model to implement, maintain and improve fire safety management. In summary, this is as follows:
- Plan: establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in a fire policy
- Do: implement the processes
- Check: monitor and measure processes against fire policy, strategic objectives, and legal and other requirements, and report the results
- Act: take actions to improve fire risk management performance continually.
- Other fire safety standards can be used to support implementation, particularly those relating to general fire precautions. Details of these can be found in the relevant fire safety topics. BS 9997 replaces PAS 7:2013 Fire Risk Management System. Specification and has been substantially revised to incorporate and reflect the principal clauses, which enhances compatibility between other management system standards (MSS). The following is a summary of the main clauses of BS 9997.
This clause requires organisations to consider external and internal issues that can impact on their strategic fire safety objectives and how they influence the scope of the fire risk management system and its ability to achieve outcomes. Subsections are:
- understanding the organisation and its context, including external and internal issues that affect its ability to achieve the intended outcomes
- understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties and which become compliance obligations
- understanding the legal and regulatory requirements
- determining the scope of the fire risk management system including organisational units, functions and physical boundaries.
In essence, to meet the clause, a high-level understanding of the important internal and external issues that can significantly impact on the organisations fire safety management system will be required. One method that can be adopted is the completion of a “context review” using an organisational cross-cutting workshop approach using various tools including interviews, questionnaires, surveys and research.
This clause requires top managers to take responsibility for the fire safety policy and the implementation of the fire risk management system. As well as retaining accountability, leadership includes establishing the fire policy for the organisation that is aligned to the wider organisational objectives and processes. Leaders must also make available the necessary resources and promote the importance of conforming to the fire safety management system. This section also requires the organisation to set out the necessary roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for fire safety.
This clause of BS 9997 details the planning stages required to manage the risks and opportunities identified. There are three elements: (1) establishing the fire objectives and planning how these will be achieved, (2) planning for changes (3) defining and documenting a fire safety strategy.
This clause covers key requirements needed to implement the fire safety management system standard with reference to resources, competences, awareness, internal and external communication and documented information.
This clause includes establishing and implementing operating criteria for controlling or influencing processes that are within the fire risk management system. Operational control should take account of the need to eliminate hazards and reduce risks. Key elements are:
- controlling on site work (e.g. maintenance and hot work)
- maintaining and testing fire safety systems (general fire precautions)
- establishing a fire risk assessment programme
- creating emergency plans.
Information in relation to maintenance and testing of fire systems can be found in the standards relating to the specific system. This includes:
- BS 5839 series Fire Detection and Alarm Systems for Buildings & BS 5306 series Fire Extinguishing Installations and Equipment on Premises
- BS EN 12845:2015+A1:2019 Fixed Firefighting Systems. Automatic Sprinkler Systems. Design, Installation and Maintenance
- BS 9990:2015 Non-automatic Fire-fighting Systems in Buildings. Code of Practice
- BS 5266-1:2016 Emergency Lighting. Code of Practice for the Emergency Lighting of Premises
- BS 8214:2016 Code of Practice for Fire Door Assemblies.
Formal fire risk assessment programmes can be applied using a formal standard. The current UK standard is: PAS 79-1:2020 and PAS 79-2– 2020 both covering Fire Risk Assessment in workplace and other buildings.
This clause makes recommendations in relation to what needs performance monitoring, how this is to be undertaken and how this is to be analysed and evaluated. Performance evaluation will be a combination of internal/external auditing and “management reviews”. Organisations requiring guidance on auditing to evaluate performance should refer to BS EN ISO 19011:2018 Guidelines for Auditing Management Systems.
The Plan-Do-Check-Act cyclical model enables a culture of continual improvement to be an integral part of the fire safety management system. This can be through learning lessons from incidents, outcomes of performance evaluation (non-conformities) and management reviews.
The International Fire Safety Standards: Common Principles have been devised to prevent injury and death from fire in the built environment and minimise the impact on communities, society and the natural environment. The Common Principles are:
- Prevention: safeguarding against the outbreak of fire and/or limiting its effects
- Detection and communication: investigating and discovering of fire, followed by informing occupants and the fire service
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