The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Suppression – Part 1

June 29, 2017 12:49 pm

In this fire engineering design and risk assessment blog series for Architects and others involved in building design and fire safety, we’re going to be looking at fire suppression from the point of view of the objectives of the end-user. While some fire suppression systems are ideal for one purpose, they may not be able to fulfil the requirements of a particular build or building use. It is important, therefore, to concentrate on how the design can meet the fire safe design objectives.


It may be that the client is only concerned that a building meets compliance requirements, which are set by the relevant authorities and parties, such as the local authority or building insurers. While the exact requirements are unlikely to be spelled out in clear terms, the origin can give important information as to how to proceed. An example is that a requirement stated as per the Building Regulations will, in the main, be concerned with life safety on the site. Any conditions imposed by the Building Insurers are more likely to be associated with property protection. Of course, it’s entirely possible to use a system which will fulfil both requirements and any system that affects one is likely to affect the other.


Where compliance with a certain piece of regulation or regulatory authority is not the sole objective of the client, it will be necessary to ascertain the exact requirements and objectives in order to gain a clear understanding.  It is also appropriate to ensure the client is agreeable to the potential levels of property damage in case of fire.


In situations where a building or its contents are particularly valuable, either in terms of monetary value or business continuity, it might be necessary to provide the most comprehensive protection possible through compartmentation, appropriate alarm systems, active systems such as sprinklers and smoke ventilation, in addition to acceptable levels of firefighting access.


It is possible that a client may require the building, or certain parts of a building, to have ‘zero damage’ and in order to achieve that standard, each potential fire incident must be dealt with at the earliest opportunity with back-up measures in place, in case of the potential failure of any part of the initial response.


In Part 2 of this series, we will go through each of the considerations and stages for design of a ‘zero damage’ system and look at the measures which would need to be adopted in order to make the systems viable. 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 Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.



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