Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants



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Lawrence Webster Forrest
Legion House
Lower Road
Kenley
Surrey
CR8 5NH

Tel: +44 (0)20 8668 8663 Fax: +44 (0)20 8668 8583
E-mail: fire@lwf.co.uk

Case Study: The Earth Galleries - Fire engineering, fire modelling, evacuation & smoke

In 1996 a successful lottery bid enabled the make-over of the traditional geological Museum into the high profile and high-tech Earth Galleries. With an opening to coincide with the premiere of the blockbuster ""Independence Day"" the Earth Galleries combine traditional Museum structure with an innovative and interactive vision of the Earth.

This atrium building was formally home to cabinets displaying the Earth's natural treasures, but in a passive and, to some minds, unexciting way. Now the atrium has been transformed into a vista of the constellations, one of the largest escalators in a British public building rises to the atrium roof, passing through a revolving globe constructed from metals of the Earth hand-crafted into the shape of the World's continents.

The challenges this vision brought to fire safety meant a wholly engineered approach involving the modeling of occupants and population distribution, evacuation movements, fire initiation and smoke transport modeling, and led to a unique fire safety strategy which balanced hazard against tenability. Using existing features and new systems we were able to ensure the intentions of the designers could be realised whilst ensuring occupants would be able to evacuate safely should the worst happen. Fire risks were reduced by the incorporation of low heat fixtures and construction of limited combustibility; smoke curtains and downstands incorporated into the exhibition spaces enabled the modeling and control of smoke, modifications to existing (and Listed) windows to remove smoke using natural ventilation techniques, and the construction of new stairs, were designed.

In considering new stairs LWF designed escape capacities using flow rates rather than prescriptive stair widths. We innovated the modification of an existing disused building linking the Geological Museum with the Science Museum, ensuring that the interests of Heritage and Planning were optimised. This resulted in a low-cost stair with minimal environmental impact and also enabled the Museum to take advantage of newly refurbished office and valuable storage space. A further stair was constructed which utilised the benefits of Planar technology.

Fire Safety Engineer: LWF
Design & construct manager: Northcroft Construction Architect: Pawson Williams Architects
Building service engineer: Klimaat
Quantity surveyor: Northcroft QS
Structural engineer: Fothergill & Co
Project value: £13,000,000

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FIRE SAFETY BLOGS

  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting & The Fire Service - Part 18

    In LWF's Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at firefighting. In part 17, we began to look at how firefighting is undertaken by the Fire Service and their objectives and modes of operation when arriving at a fire. In part 19, tactical firefighting is discussed.While the general objectives of tactical firefighting were given in the last blog, there are various methods used by firefighters...

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  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - Open-sided Car Parks - Part 52

    In LWFs blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 51 of this series, we were looking at the potential for fire spread from one area of a building to another through external surfaces, before moving on to begin to look at the necessary arrangements for car parks. In part 52, we continue on that theme by considering...

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  • Facilities Management & Fire Safety - Calculating RSET - Part 9

    In LWFs blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety we have been looking at fire safety engineering. In part 8, we looked at how ASET (Available Safe Egress Time) is calculated and how this should always be more than the RSET (Required Safe Egress Time). While ASET involves a series of calculations relating to fire growth and the building itself, RSET, also...

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  • Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment - Firefighting & The Fire Service - Part 17

    In LWF’s fire engineering blog series for Architects and others in the business of building design, we have been looking at firefighting. In part 16, we discussed first-aid firefighting by the occupancy and the use of hose reels to do so. In part 17, we will begin to look at firefighting from the point of view of the Fire Services.The particular objectives of the Fire Service in a given situation will be decided upon...

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  • Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises - External Fire Spread - Part 51

    In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 50 of this series, we discussed the potential for external fire spread including calculating unprotected areas and consideration of the surfaces of external walls and roofs. In part 51, we continue looking at external fire spread, starting with junctions of different elements.At the junction of wall and...

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Case Studies

The Wohl Neuroscience Institute - Fire Safety, Strategy & Engineering
Key Facts: Client: King’s Clinical Neuroscience Institute Project Manager: MACE Ltd Designers: Devereux Architects/Allies and Morrison Approximate Size: 7,400m2 Description of the Project:...

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General Bulletins

Fire - The External Risk
When we consider fire safety, our focus is normally from within, what can we do to prevent the occurrence of fire and how we can limit its damage.  Whilst this is the correct stance to take, we m...

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Technical Bulletins

Evacuation Modelling - Factor in Human Behaviour
Evacuation of buildings can be analyzed in different ways. Approved Document B (ADB) which provides guidance on meeting the requirements of the England and Wales Building Regulations with regard to fi...

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