What happened with your fire prevention when the craftsmen were there?

3 December 2015

A tiny gap could cost you a fortune.

All new or renovated buildings must, as you are well aware, have approved fire protection. And every time that you move a wall or electrical wires, or install various types of equipment you – the property owner or manager – are responsible for restoring the original level of protection.

This may seem obvious but we know that it doesn’t always work that way. We know that interior walls in offices, warehouses and other buildings are being moved more frequently than before. We have never installed or moved so many cables. The craftsmen have never had so tight time schedules, and customers have never been so keen to stay within budget.

You are legally responsible but, let’s face it, are you absolutely sure that all requirements were met every time a craftsman did something with your ceiling or interior walls?

“It’s not necessarily about carelessness”, says Thomas Wallén, fire prevention specialist at Täby Brandskyddsteknik. “The risk that a vital flaw is not fixed increase when both the customer and the craftsman think that they know fire prevention. They may be an excellent builder, plumber or electrician, but generally speaking their knowledge about fire insulation, fire coating and other vitally important measures is limited.”

When did you inspect your fire protection last?

One major issue is of course how many walls have been moved, and how many changes have been taken potentially affecting the integrity of your ceilings and walls.

But it is not only about physical engagement. All materials age, and requirements have not always been as strict as they are today. So, what can you do to ensure that you and your insurance company will have total confidence in your fire protection?

“According to the law on accidents the owner of the building and anyone conducting business there are ultimately responsible for fire prevention there.

“This means that you are obliged to ensure a reasonable level of access to fire protection and lifesaving equipment, and to take whatever measures necessary to prevent fire and eliminate or reduce potential damages caused by fire.”

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency provides general recommendations on Systematic fire prevention (SRVFS 2004:3), including a clause about compulsory Systematic fire prevention (SBA). Which effectively covers preventive as well as active fire protection, should a fire occur.

A simple first step is to talk to somebody with sufficient knowledge about the most common flaws, about materials and measures, and how to remedy potential shortcomings.

“This could also be a great opportunity to evaluate the property’s active fire protection status for example evacuation plans, signs, smoke hatches and sprinkler systems, says Christer Öberg who is in charge of active fire protection at Täby Brandskyddsteknik.