The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – An Integrated Approach – Part 7

December 14, 2020 12:09 pm

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 6, LWF considered the role of a fire engineer in terms of their competency and responsibilities. In part 7, we discuss the integrated approach taken by fire engineers in recent years to encompass modern construction methods.

While fire safety legislation has been based on the experiences of the past, in that it has been driven by fire disasters, the growth of fire safety engineered options for design has led to an increased demand for an holistic and considered approach – one which allows more varied and complex design and the use of modern construction methods.

The fire engineer should provide a fire safety design that considers how the building is to be constructed and how it will be occupied and maintained by the end user. Each factor considered for the design must be detailed in the fire safety strategy submitted by the fire engineer.

The fire engineer should provide a fire strategy for a building which considers the potential occupiers and end users and how they will use the building. It would not be appropriate to base a strategy on placing onerous restrictions or requirements on the end user.

Any fire safety management or maintenance procedures that will be required by the end user, as a part of the fire strategy, should be clearly documented to be handed over to the client. In England and Wales, Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations gives this as a requirement.

Any fire safety solution provided by a fire engineer should be practicable, i.e. they should provide a design that meets practical requirements and can be built. In the UK, the regulatory approach means that the fire safety design should meet the functional building regulations requirements and this means giving consideration to fire safety at construction stage and throughout the building’s usage.

The materials used in construction must be understood by the fire engineer in terms of their fire risk. The use of modern materials can mean that fire safety guidance is outdated and the newer materials may need fire performance assessment before their use can be deemed appropriate.

The use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and 3D models can help the fire engineer envisage the detail of fire compartmentation and fire-resisting lines, as well as showing any areas which may need extra attention, such as voids and connections between floors and buildings. In addition, these tools can help when planning routes of emergency egress from a building in case of fire.

In part 8 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will look at the responsibilities of a fire engineer. 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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