The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Provision of Firefighting Shafts – Part 53

August 5, 2019 12:27 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others working in the building design business, we have been discussing provision for firefighting activities. In part 52, we looked at the Fire Service access level of firefighting shaft. In part 53, we consider other levels of firefighting shaft, stairs, lobbies and firefighting lifts.

While it is most commonplace to find a firefighting shaft that serves each level it passes through, there are occasions where this may not be the case. For instance, in a building where the lower levels are commercial but the upper stories are accommodation, the firefighting shaft may have been provided to allow access to the residential floors only and there would be no normal connection to or access from the firefighting shaft to the lower levels.

There is likely to be no need of a firefighting staircase providing access to the upper floors where they are provided with firefighting lobbies, although it may be required for means of escape. Any staircase that serves a basement level should access the accommodation via a firefighting lobby.

While there are recommended restrictions on the floor area of a firefighting lobby, it is likely that these are to guard against the area being used for other functions or inappropriate storage. However, the restrictions also limit the space available to the Fire Service for personnel and equipment in a bridgehead or staging area. A properly-managed building should be able to have a firefighting lobby of any appropriate size without it being used for other purposes.

A firefighting lift installation should conform to the standards given in the guidelines, however, it should not be used to serve basement levels. It is also recommended that the firefighting lift is not used for moving goods or refuse, unless such use is unavoidable because it is the only lift in the building. It is probable that the reasoning behind this guidance is in case it is being used to move items when it is needed by the Fire Service. It would be very inconvenient for the Fire Service to need access to the lift and find it full of boxes of paper, for instance, which needed moving before access could be gained. It would seem to make sense that the same reasoning is behind the guidance stating that goods lifts and service lifts should not be located within firefighting shafts.

In part 54 of this series, LWF will continue to discuss 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 Peter Gyere 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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