The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Provision of Firefighting Shafts – Part 52

July 29, 2019 1:40 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others working in the building design, we have been looking at how provision should be made for firefighting activities. In part 51, we looked at the recommendations for providing firefighting shafts. In part 52, we will consider the access level of firefighting shafts.

Current guidance on firefighting shafts suggests that access to a firefighting shaft should be available directly from the open air, or via a protected corridor which is no more than 18 m in length. Any access from the protected corridor to accommodation within the building should be by protected lobbies.

However, there is nothing at all in the guidance to suggest that a corridor which forms part of the means of escape should be similarly separated from the accommodation by a protected lobby. The reasoning behind this is that a firefighting shaft is designed to provide safe access and egress for firefighters attending a fire on an upper floor of the building, rather than on the ground floor or fire service access level. If a fire were to occur on the entry level, it would be dealt with in the same way that any fire on a single floor and so lobbies and a protected corridor would not be necessary.

If there was a fire on an upper storey of the building, it would be unlikely that it would spread downwards to affect fire service access to the building. Equally, if it did spread from an upper floor to the fire service access floor, it would be unlikely to break out from the accommodation into a protected corridor before the fire service were aware of the danger.

For these reasons, a protected corridor without protected lobbies between the protected corridor and accommodation on fire service access level is considered sufficient for fire service access to a firefighting shaft.

Within the firefighting lobby at fire service access level, there should be kept a box which contains floor plans, special risks, passive and active fire safety systems and any other relevant information which might assist the firefighters in carrying out their duties. An emergency base telephone should also be provided which can connect to all the other emergency telephones within the building and it should also be able to connect to a fire service mobile control unit, externally.

In part 53 of this series, LWF will discuss all other levels of firefighting shaft, stairs, lobbies and firefighting lifts. 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 us 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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