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Case Study: The British Museum - Fire Safety PlanThe British Museum occupies approximately one million square feet of Grade 1 Listed buildings in Bloomsbury, central London. The occupation is diverse and split between public display areas, departmental research and storage, administration and support services.
LWF's brief was to devise a standard of fire safety (Fire Plan) for the museum that would meet fire certification standards, meet all of the museum's moral obligations for life safety to staff and visitors, afford protection to the Collections and to the fabric of the building.
The physical features of the public spaces of the museum allowed, following risk assessment, an innovative use of fire engineering techniques to prove life safety criteria without the need for intrusive physical fire compartmentation. The relatively low fire loads inherent within the gallery spaces combined with a philosophy of separation of risk areas lead to the adoption of zonal fire modelling on a progressive fill basis. The model took advantage of the large volume of the spaces to predict time to hazard.
A computer based evacuation model using the Exodus product was constructed and compared against the fire development model. Time to evacuate for a number of scenarios was compared with fire development options and safety factors discussed and agreed with the London Fire Brigade. In all the Fire Plan was accepted by the brigade and a plan of implementation agreed for action by the Museum.
The application of fire engineering techniques in these large existing buildings served several purposes. It ensured that appropriate fire precautions to meet statutory standards were developed with minimal intrusions to the fabric of the buildings; it enabled the museum to operate as it wished in terms of unimpeded circulation; it met the statutory requirements of the fire authority and it formed a fire safety plan within which all projects could fit and prove fire safety adequacy.