The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire Safety Engineering – Part 1

October 18, 2018 9:44 am

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we were looking at fire safety training. In Part 1 of this series, however, we begin to review the subject of fire safety engineering. While most people reading on this subject could work out what fire safety engineering is, from the title, LWF will start by looking at the history of fire safety engineering and how it came to be commonly practised in the UK.


Fire engineering has been around in the UK for the last 40 or 50 years. The first higher education course on the subject was an MSc qualification, available from 1974 at University of Edinburgh when Professor Rasbash was appointed the first professor of fire safety engineering in the country.


Widespread acceptance of the theories and methods as a way of satisfying fire safety objectives was slower to come to fruition and it wasn’t until references to alternative methods through fire safety engineering were made in the Building Regulations in England and Wales in 1991 that many felt able to put their confidence and indeed, life safety, into the theories. This was further reinforced by the first mention of fire safety engineering in the new Approved Document B which came into effect in 1992. They gave the following citation:


‘A fire safety engineering approach that takes into account the total fire safety package can provide an alternative approach to fire safety. It may be the only viable way to achieve a satisfactory standard of fire safety in some large and complex buildings.’


It is certainly true that fire safety solutions for large and complex buildings are often the only way to proceed as prescriptive solutions are unable to deliver on building features such as atriums.


We can safely say that since the early 1990s, fire engineering has ‘boomed’ with a vast increase in education, practitioners, fire engineering firms and clients who need the services. Indeed, the introduction of fire engineering as an acceptable alternative to prescriptive solutions has allowed the architectural community greater freedom of design, while being assured that there will be a fire safety solution to fit.


In part 2 of this series, LWF will provide an outline of the concepts involved in fire safety engineering and in providing fire engineered solutions. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.



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