The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Building Types & Fire Load – Part 24

April 12, 2021 11:39 am

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 23, LWF discussed fire load and how it affects fire hazard. In part 24, we talk about how large numbers of people in a building affects means of escape and how the inclusion of sleeping accommodation in a building impacts on fire detection and safe evacuation.

When there is the likelihood or intention of large numbers of people to be present in a building, more attention must be paid to effective fire safety management for reliable means of escape. In recent years, there has been increased attention paid to how information is provided to building occupants during a fire situation through the use of voice alarms and/or informative displays.

The use of fire engineering disciplines can allow what might otherwise be seen as ‘building over-occupation’ and extended travel distances by providing alternative solutions to fire risk issues and the effective management of fire development.

Particular attention must be paid to buildings which include sleeping accommodation, especially where the occupants are staying away from their own home, as is the case with hotels. People woken from sleep by a fire alarm and who are in an unfamiliar environment can experience significant confusion and disorientation.

Increased fire detection, fire protection or fire control measures can be justified for sleeping accommodation. In a hotel, this may include placement of fire alarm sounders in a position that ensures the alarm is sufficiently loud to wake sleeping guests. There may be cause for the alarm to more complex in nature but it should also be reliable so as to avoid unnecessary disruption and to ensure false alarms are not considered normal.

Passive fire protection, such as compartmentation, and control of fire development and spread are also justified in sleeping accommodation.

Special arrangements may be required for people who have a hearing disability or who have mobility issues. If there is a likelihood an occupant may not be able to hear the fire alarm, products are available such as pillows which vibrate to wake the at-risk person and flashing lights can be used in the rooms as a visual aid. People with mobility issues must be subject to effective fire safety management procedures which mean they are given assistance to evacuate safely.

In part 25 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will talk about disadvantaged occupants. 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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