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2023 | Buch

SFPE Guide to Fire Risk Assessment

SFPE Task Group on Fire Risk Assessment


Über dieses Buch

The SFPE Guide to Fire Risk Assessment provides guidance to qualified practitioners in developing, selecting, and using fire risk assessment methodologies for the design, construction, and operation of buildings, facilities, or processes. It also addresses fire risk acceptability, the role of fire risk assessment and fire risk management in the fire safety design process, and associated communication/ monitoring of fire risk.

The guide Includes a new flow chart that outlines the risk assessment process. It also includes new information related to:

Risk PerceptionF-N curvesRisk communicationResidual risk managementRisk monitoringSensitivity analysis

The guide also provides clear guidance on conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis. It also uses examples that reinforce topics discussed.


Chapter 1. Introduction

Understanding the topic of fire risk assessment is essential in the practice of fire protection engineering. As part of fire protection engineering, risk assessment can be used as a comprehensive approach that integrates the fire safety factors that are generally used to evaluate potential strategies for an application. The aim of conducting a fire risk assessment is to gain insight into and characterize fire-related risks to better inform the wide range of decisions that should be made concerning a building, facility, or process as part of the design, construction, or operation [1]. As a result, implementing a fire risk assessment can lead to a safer, more efficient, and cost-effective design. Moreover, risk assessment can also be an essential tool used by fire engineers when implementing a performance-based strategy as it addresses explicitly unique aspects or uses. When used as part of a performance-based design, it can also provide a basis for developing and selecting alternative fire engineering options based on the project’s needs (e.g., if the code-prescribed solution does not meet the stakeholders’ needs) [2].

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Chapter 2. Risk, Fire Risk, and Fire Risk Assessment
Risk is the potential for realization of unwanted adverse conditions, considering scenarios and their associated likelihoods and consequences. Specifically, fire risk can be defined as a quantitative or qualitative measure of fire incident loss potential for fire protection engineering applications in event likelihood and aggregate consequences.
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Chapter 3. Overview of the Fire Risk Assessment Process

This chapter provides a general overview of a fire risk assessment process. The flowchart presented in Fig. 3.1 is a summary of this process. For clarity, not all the possible interactions between activities are represented with arrows in the flowchart. It is expected that a fire risk assessment may have multiple interactions and iterations between tasks that analysts will have to manage as the project progresses and is applied throughout the life of the facility or process for which it is developed.

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Chapter 4. Project Scope and Objectives
This chapter provides guidance on factors influencing the identification of the scope and objectives for the fire risk assessment process. The project scope and objectives provide the foundation for the insights derived and the breadth and depth of the assessment. As a minimum, the risk assessment should be designed to identify key risk drivers and the appropriate fire protection strategies and mitigations.
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Chapter 5. Design Information and Data Collection
This section describes the collection of information that will form the basis of the fire risk assessment. The information typically includes facility design layout, operation and maintenance processes, characteristics of materials within the facility, training of staff and occupants (as it relates to human response to a fire event), and fire protection systems and features. Each of these elements affects how the fire scenarios are developed and characterized. This section also describes the various information sources typically used when performing a fire risk assessment and how each source of information relates to the fire risk assessment.
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Chapter 6. Risk Assessment Method Selection
The selection of the risk assessment method(s) relates to the level of detail to which each scenario is described and quantified concerning the level of potential risk. In general terms, the analysis (i.e., the activities within the assessment where risk is evaluated) can range from qualitative to quantitative, including semiquantitative approaches. This is governed primarily by the level of perceived risk, which may change as the overall assessment progresses, and by regulatory bodies. In practice, the type of risk-based evaluation and level of detail should depend on the complexity of the risk and the decision-maker’s needs. When selecting the type of analysis, it is necessary to consider several factors, including the information available, the complexity of the facility or process under analysis, the potential deviations from code requirements and best practices, and the level of detail necessary to make a substantiated decision about the tolerability of fire risk(s).
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Chapter 7. Acceptance or Tolerance Criteria
Fire risk assessment involves the need to establish a target risk (i.e., a criterion for tolerance or acceptability). The target risk should provide a socially acceptable level of outcome considering stakeholders’ perspectives. When considering stakeholders’ views, different types of risk are perceived differently, and society prefers varying levels of outcome depending on the risk characteristics. For example, potentially catastrophic risks are perceived differently than less severe ones. An occupancy where hundreds of people are at risk due to a single fire is perceived differently than an occupancy where only one person is at risk due to a single fire. Society prefers differing levels of safety for the two different occupancies. Based partly on perceptions, this preference is reflected deterministically in many global codes and regulations.
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Chapter 8. Fire Hazard Identification
The process of hazard identification is the first step in developing fire scenarios. The hazard identification process produces a list of distinct fire-related hazards and their specific locations that may contribute to fire scenarios. This process and the corresponding outputs (i.e., the list of hazards identified) are specific to the application (facility, process, etc.).
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Chapter 9. Fire Scenarios
A fire scenario is defined in ISO 13943 [1] as a “qualitative description of the course of a fire with respect to time, identifying key elements that characterize the studied fire and differentiate it from other possible fires.” In addition, a fire scenario “typically defines the ignition and fire growth processes, the fully developed fire stage, the fire decay stage, and the environment and systems that will impact on the course of the fire.”
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Chapter 10. Qualitative Fire Risk Estimation
Risk estimation is how the frequency and consequences for each fire scenario are developed and then combined to characterize the risk that will be used for decision-making. This chapter focuses on a qualitative approach that follows a systematic process that can be reviewed and reproduced to support risk-based decision-making for engineering solutions.
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Chapter 11. Quantitative Fire Risk Estimation
This chapter builds on the qualitative risk estimation process, and the example described in Chap. 10 provides guidance on quantitative risk estimation. Quantitative risk estimation refers to the process of determining ignition frequencies, conditional probabilities, and consequences in numerical terms to calculate a risk value for each scenario contributing to fire risk in a facility.
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Chapter 12. Risk Evaluation
Risk evaluation and acceptability refers to comparing the assessed risk for an individual or a group of scenarios with an acceptance criterion typically defined in the risk matrix and agreed upon by stakeholders. Risk could also be evaluated against a reference value of individual and societal risk derived for a code-compliant building, facility, or process. In this case, the resulting risk should not exceed the reference value, which is implicitly considered acceptable based on code compliance or using the ALARP principle described earlier in Chap. 7. The comparison is represented as a decision point in the process of determining if the risk associated with a given scenario(s) is “acceptable” or “tolerable.” Examples of the risk evaluation process were provided earlier in Tables 10.​1 and 11.​6. These tables include an assessment of the acceptability of risk results using a risk matrix as the tolerability or acceptance criteria.
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Chapter 13. Sensitivity and Uncertainty Analysis
Applying a fire risk assessment requires simplifying assumptions, the use of limited data, elicitation of engineering judgment, and the use of analytical or empirical models. In addition, sometimes conservative assumptions and input variables are used to ensure a margin of safety in the results (e.g., an AHJ may prefer or request an analysis based on reasonable worst-case conservatism rather than the assessment of realistic risk results). These elements unavoidably introduce uncertainties into the analysis. Therefore, a comprehensive step focusing on sensitivity and uncertainty analysis is necessary to assess the impact of these analytical decisions on the study results so that conclusions and recommendations are made considering their effects.
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Chapter 14. Documentation and Risk Communication
Once the evaluation process is completed, the risk assessment should be adequately documented and communicated to the stakeholders so it can be maintained and monitored throughout the facility’s life cycle. The following elements of the analysis should be documented and communicated appropriately to the corresponding stakeholders:
  • Objectives and scope of the fire risk assessment
  • Assumptions and limitations influencing the evaluation of the assessment
  • The acceptability or tolerability criteria governing the decision-making process
  • The fire risk assessment methodology
  • The identified hazards and fire scenarios
  • The risk estimation
  • Risk evaluation and acceptability
  • The analysis results, including a characterization of the frequency and consequences of the fire scenarios within the scope of the study
  • The results from the uncertainty and sensitivity analysis
  • Quality assurance (internal and external review)
  • Assessment of applicable fire risk assessment standard requirements
  • The conclusions of the assessment, including key fire protection insights and factors governing fire risk
  • The list of references to support statements and decisions made during the risk assessment
  • Inputs to the monitoring process
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Chapter 15. Residual Risk Management and Monitoring
Following the implementation of the selected design option, the residual risk needs to be managed, and the risk assessment should be routinely monitored to ensure its applicability. Residual risk management relates to what to do with the risk level resulting from the analysis, accept it as it is, transfer it, or reduce it further. The risk assessment should be routinely monitored to ensure its applicability. This includes a routine check-in that consists of a programmatic approach for:
  • Any new applicable codes or standards
  • New hazards added to the facility
  • Changes in the exposure of people, property, or activities to existing hazards
  • Physical modifications
  • Changes in analysis inputs, assumptions, and acceptance criteria
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SFPE Guide to Fire Risk Assessment
verfasst von
Austin Guerrazzi
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN