The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Design Objectives – Part 45

September 6, 2021 11:19 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 44, LWF talked about fire engineering and performance-based design principles. In part 45, we will examine design objectives, beginning with life safety.

Life Safety

The aim of the fire safety design objective we summarise as life safety is twofold. Firstly, to protect building occupants not in the immediate area of the fire from harm and ensuring they can reach a place of safety outside the building.

The second is to improve the chances of survival of any building occupant close to the site of fire development.

For example, if a hotel guest leaves a cigarette burning in their room, or a heated hair appliance switched on close to combustible materials and then falls asleep, the aim would be to alert them in time for them to escape the building, to minimise the chances of injury or death to that person. They are the person in closest proximity to the seat of the fire. Other hotel guests and staff should be alerted in time to leave the hotel for a place of safety outside the building without injury or harm.

Loss Prevention

Fire safety measures taken with the aim of preserving life safety may offer some measure of property protection too. At the design stage, the fire safety engineer can work with the client to establish whether it’s appropriate to consider other objectives too, such as protecting building contents or safeguarding business continuity.

The decision to undertake loss prevention design objectives can be financially motivated, such as protection of business interests, stock etc.

However, loss prevention is also relevant to hospitals, for example, where the loss of a building or expensive and important equipment could mean care cannot continue to be given to patients. Other key buildings in society would find themselves impacted by fire and be unable to continue to give adequate service, too.

Environmental Impact

A fire on one property can have effects outside of the boundary, both close to home and far-reaching. The potential reach of a fire must be considered and limited so that it cannot pass to adjacent buildings or facilities.

Hazardous materials from a fire can be released into the environment, particularly where the fire has occurred at a site such as a waste depot or a chemical process plant and can have a significant impact. Actions should be taken to avoid this happening.

Some methods of firefighting may not be appropriate or may need to be mitigated when considering the site of the fire and the avoidance of water-course pollution.

In part 46 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will discuss design scenarios. 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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