The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety on construction sites – Part 9

September 7, 2020 11:49 am

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at those activities of a company which can be classed as fire safety management. In part 8, LWF looked at how the building’s designers should approach their own responsibility towards fire safety. In part 9, we discuss emergency procedures, temporary accommodation and other elements which designers should consider in terms of fire safety on construction sites.

Some elements of fire safety, such as first-aid firefighting equipment and staff training, are outside the remit of the building designer and will be actioned by the occupant. Other considerations are very important for the designer to implement, such as suitable access to the site and within for the Fire Service. The route into the site and around it will be beneficial during the construction phase, and should be kept clear for firefighting access.

Any temporary accommodation required during construction should be considered by the designer when looking at the general layout of the site. Ideally, they should be located outside the structure, but where this isn’t feasible, they should be placed where there has been consideration given to means of escape, the potential for spread of fire beyond the unit and access by firefighters.

Where sleeping accommodation is required on a site, the advice of the fire preventions officer can be sought as to location and specification. High fire safety standards are necessary for accommodation where people are expected to sleep.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Construction (Design Management) Regulations 2007 both require that consideration of specific fire safety issues is undertaken, much of which will also feed into method statements and works sequencing.

The areas of consideration are: Compartmentation, Ventilation, Firefighting, Detection, Fire Loads and Building Separation.

Compartmentation should be implemented at the earliest possible stage of construction and maintained appropriately, to avoid the spread of smoke and fire from one area to the next. Where self-closing fire doors are installed to protect shafts and any other vertical connection and are considered vulnerable to damage, they should be fitted with suitable hold-open devices operated by the fire detection system.

Compartmentation can be a large part of a building’s passive fire protection provision in the completed building. During construction, decisions on whether or not it is included and at what stage, can have a significant effect if a fire was to occur. One example is that of Minster Court in 1991, where fire spread unimpeded through to the atrium of the building undergoing significant renovation and then simply shot up through the unenclosed atrium to the floors above. The sprinkler system was also not operational due to the works. While the building project was originally estimated to cost around £45 million, the fire left building owner, Prudential, looking at costs of at least £75 million to get the building back to a usable condition.

In part 10, LWF will continue looking at compartmentation in unfinished building projects, before addressing the other areas of consideration listed. 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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