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Fire protection guide offers risk-based advice

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We read with interest Alan Parnell's letter ('Time to reappraise safety and insurance', aj 9.3.00) regarding his view of a conflict of interest between life safety and property insurance 'construction rules'. We would like to respond to some of the points.

It must be clearly understood that the basic objectives of life safety and property/business protection are different. Parnell incorrectly references insurance 'construction rules'. He should of course have referred to The lpc Design Guide for the Fire Protection of Buildings. This has been developed to be read in conjunction with Approved Document B.

If he was to study the lpc Design Guide for the Fire Protection of Buildings 2000, Parnell would see that this is very much a risk-based document. We do provide invaluable information for designers. However, flexibility is provided for and it is certainly not a set of rules. The basic question that designers should ask their clients is, 'if a fire occurs, will you be back in business within 24 hours?'

We fully expect to further develop the Design Guide at the Building Research Establishment and anticipate continued support from insurers to ensure that it remains the definitive guide for business protection.

Terry Day, principal consultant, Passive Fire Protection, lpc Centre for Risk Sciences, bre

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