The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety Management – Part 3

November 18, 2019 1:39 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at the activities of a company which can be classed as fire safety management. In part 2, we considered the statutory and legal obligations of a business in relation to fire safety management. In part 3, LWF discusses how the design of the building should be formed with fire safety management by the occupants in mind.

It might seem obvious that a building designer should work with the end use of the building in mind, but in the case of fire safety management, the responsibility is perhaps less obvious. It is most definitely the case that a good building design from a fire safety point of view can make the fire safety manager’s job much easier upon occupation of the building. It is important that the fire safety design works in harmony with the day to day use of the building. Thought should be given to the natural flow in a building and care should be taken not to put fire doors across through routes, for instance, or to implement a situation where the real behaviour of people in an emergency situation is not taken into account.

One example would be that if there is a creche on site, in a fire situation all parents will attempt to get to their child first rather than evacuating immediately, as per the fire drill instructions. If the creche is located counter to the escape route flow, it will cause problems.

The fire engineer can assist the eventual work of the fire safety manager by fulfilling the following requirements:

– The active fire safety systems installed are suitable and can be maintained and tested.
– Any passive fire safety systems are not likely to be made ineffective by mismanagement.
– That design assumptions are correct regarding the use, occupancy and management of the building.

A part of the role of the fire safety engineer is to ensure that the key management issues are understood and taken into account at the earliest opportunity, ideally during conception. Early liaison with building control, fire safety officers, health and safety inspectors and insurance companies is also beneficial.

The building designer should familiarise themselves with the responsibilities and tasks of the fire safety manager to ensure that any potential issues are covered during building design. In England and Wales, the designer should read Regulation 16B of the Building Regulations ‘Fire Safety Information’.

In part 4, LWF will discuss the value of management input at the design stage. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

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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