The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Suppression – Part 2

July 6, 2017 10:34 am

In this Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment blog series for Architects and others involved in building design and fire safety, we are looking at fire suppression. In Part 1, we looked at how the objectives of the end-user can vary from simply meeting legal obligations through to a ‘zero damage’ policy. In part 2, we’re going to begin by looking at the measures which may be taken in order to have a ‘zero damage’ policy.


The first measure to be undertaken is one of instigating an environment of active awareness. This means that the risk of fire and the consequences of a fire in terms of damage to the business are high on the day to day agenda of those people on the premises and that those risks are managed.


Security within the building and its surroundings is a part of this. Access to the building must be via security control only for all personnel and visitors must be accompanied at all times.


Each employee must undergo fire risk management training as a part of their induction process, as well as being familiar with the fire protection measures within the building(s).


All works taking place in the building, whether undertaken by internal staff or external contractors must be subject to control measures such as risk assessments and method statements. Only then can the potential impact upon fire protection measures be mitigated.


Storage areas must be limited, and every area must have only limited local combustible consumables.


The second stage of a ‘zero damage’ policy would be the installation of an aspirating smoke detection system. This system gives the earliest possible warning of fire and is designed to allow investigation of any alarms by the relevant staff. This early warning and opportunity to deal with the early stages of a fire without a full fire alarm or sprinkler system activation can mean that further damage to the property can be avoided.


In addition, a ‘stand-alone’ point fire detection and alarm system should be installed with the aim of it sounding when evacuation of an area is required and to send for assistance from the Fire and Rescue Service.


An automatic inert gaseous firefighting system can be employed to act with a coincident smoke detection system. This means that when two smoke detectors are both activated, the release of the agent is instigated.


The fifth stage of a ‘zero damage’ policy involves the installation of an automatic wet sprinkler system with sprinkler heads installed in a protected position to avoid damage.


The final part of this overall system is to ensure that each of the risk areas is compartmented from adjacent areas and floors by construction of at least 2 hours fire resistance.


While the order in which these works are accomplished will be dependent upon practicality, all should be completed before the building is operational. While a ‘zero damage’ policy for each building is not the same, it is likely it would involve some or all of the above methods.


In Part 3 of Fire Suppression, we will be looking in more detail at sprinkler protection. 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.




Share this post