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When Bob Dylan wrote 'The Times They Are A Changing' he almost certainly was not thinking about British and European Standards, or even American ones. However the words certainly ring true when it comes to British Fire Legislation and Design Standards where major changes have or are occurring, or are proposed. For the range of fire law, standards and codes that have become familiar over recent years, changes are either in place or are proposed. The purpose of this bulletin is to overview one such significant and proposed change. The bulletin will therefore look in some detail at draft British Standards (BS) 9999-2 'Code of practice for fire safety in the design, construction and use of buildings' which is intended as a replacement for most of the BS 5588 'Fire Preacuations in the design construction and use of buildings'.
When home owners are looking to provide more living space within their dwellings one solution is to move upwards by either converting the loft/roof space or adding an additional storey. An apparently simple solution to the problem, but one that, dependent upon the height of the proposed extention can attract more stringent fire safety requirements than may already be provided in the dwelling. This is understandable as, in the UK, fire statistics indicate that most deaths from fire occur in the home. The most recent statistics show that dwelling fire rose by 1% in 1999 to 72,100 resulting in 466 deaths and 14600 injuries. In this bulletin we examine the practical guidance to meet the fire safety requirements of the Building Regulations in England and Wales, as given in the Approved Document B.
Completing a building on time and to budget ought not to be a difficult task. Mankind has been building structures for centuries, so why is the whole process fraught with difficulties? In most cases, it is not the act of construction but the bureaucracy and the formalised procedures involved that causes delays to the architect's carefully planned programme. In this bulletin we examine the statutory consultation process from the viewpoint of a consulting fire engineer and attempt to clarify the procedures involved.
Recent Home Office Statistics estimate that there were approximately 400 fires within the construction industry in 1999, 60% of which were started maliciously. This follows a similar pattern seen in recent years and consequently has repercussions for all parties involved in any construction project affected by fire.
With Architects considered the principal link between the client and the various members of the design team and therefore ultimately responsible for every aspect of a building's design, appreciating the interruptions and the cost implications of dealing with continuous false alarms is an invaluable skill. An understanding of the fundamental aspects of false alarms and the industry's response by research and development gives an architect a valuable advantage when executing a cost effective and functional design brief.
We are all aware of the dangers of ignoring fire safety, especially when the event happens however, no matter what the consequences, we all wish we hadn’t The importance of alternative fire management procedures and fire safety policies is rarely understood. The economic consequences of such misunderstandings can have a devastating effect should a major fire occur. For those charged with comparing the cost effectiveness of fire safety strategies, many find the analytical difficulties a considerable hurdle particularly when the value of the item to be protected bears little relation to the cost of a fire. Fire safety is no longer bound by statutory regulations and standards due to the acceptance of fire engineered solutions, however many budgets set aside for fire safety rarely include the full extent of fire management costs and net value changes.
"The concept of panic tends to be used as a way of blaming the public after an event as a "let-out clause" for anyone in an official capacity (e.g. Architect, Engineer, Designer etc.), who might have accepted responsibility for the loss of life". (Sime 1980) Disasters are rare, and the number of deaths compared with the accumulated death through other activities is relatively low. However, the psychological, social and political effect is very damaging. Disasters in recent times have highlighted the need for appraisal of human behaviour, safety management and communication. This is demonstrated through a growth towards the incorporation of human factors and management into modern building design. The incoming BS 7974, which will replace the DD 240, includes a fire safety management section. Also in the foreword in the "Appraisal of Sports Grounds" (IStructE, 1991) it recommends an understanding of crowd and human management in both normal and emergency situations. As architects and engineers, we are responsible for setting the attitudes for human understanding, management and communication.
Historically, arson prevention has been seen as a physical precautionary measure with the provision of high fences, visible security lighting and big locks in order to deter any would be assailant. However, with architects and designers becoming more concerned with the external aesthetics of a building as well as the internal functional requirements, the use of environmentally based protectional features in the design, are becoming increasingly popular. While protecting buildings from the threat of arson and terrorism is not a statutory requirement; its thoughtful introduction during the planning stage can prove increasingly cost effective as opposed to modifying an existing building upon completion. Therefore in this bulletin we consider simple cost effective methods of designing in ‘arson hostile features.
There can be few amongst us who are unaware of the release of the new and amended version of Approved Document B. ADB2000 as it is sure to become known, replaces the 1992 edition and comes into effect on 1st July 2000. The format and layout remains largely unchanged and to those familiar with the contents, it seems to be as user friendly as its predecessor. However, changes have been made and some of these changes will undoubtedly affect the way in which buildings are designed and constructed. Other changes are relatively cosmetic and have been made to align the recommendations made in ADB2000 to those detailed in the various fire-related British Standards. As its not possible to detail all the changes, only the major changes or those that are likely to have a significant effect have been commented on from a fire engineering perspective.
Fire safety engineering has often been associated with only the most complex of buildings, or when trying to gain statutory acceptance for a novel design. In this bulletin we consider fire engineering as a discipline and the principals of risk assessment and how to apply those principles to the whole question of fire safety provision in buildings.