The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Designing Fire Precautions – Part 32

June 1, 2021 7:19 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 31, LWF began look at the design of fire precautions for domestic dwellings. The previous blog was published out of sequence, and so you can click here to read. In part 32, we will continue to look at the fire precautions used in domestic dwellings, with more information about fire safety in high-rise buildings.

A domestic high-rise building relies on fire protection measures such as compartmentation to prevent the spread of fire from one dwelling to the next. Protected stairs and firefighting shafts are essential with increased building height, with the standards being higher in single stair situations.

In order to keep escape routes clear of smoke and hot gases, venting of the common areas is required, so occupants of the building can escape and the Fire Service can access the building to extinguish the fire or to effect rescue.

Where increased travel distances to an exit are necessary to the building’s design, a smoke control system can be designed and installed to enable an extension to tenable conditions. Commonly, such systems can be natural, mechanical or hybrid systems, but should be designed specifically for the building in question and circumstances presented.

Wall and ceiling surfaces are subject to controls for common areas to help avoid the spread of fire. There should also be limits on the fire risks opening into common areas. The surface spread of flame over external walls is controlled as is the sub-division of cavities through which fire could spread. Cavity closers around openings, windows etc will be required as will cavity barriers and firestop systems.

Many developers follow an established design for high-rise blocks of flats, but increasingly, designers are pursuing unconventional designs and looking at new ways of grouping the dwellings. Such breaks from tradition offer the opportunity to pursue a fire engineered design, indeed, some designs – such as designs which group flats around an atrium – would have no choice but to pursue a fire engineered design to offset the loss of physical fire protection in the form of compartmentation.

Life safety in tall blocks of flats is further enhanced by the introduction of automatic fire suppression requirements for residential buildings over 30 metres in height in England and Wales and over 18 metres in height in Scotland.

In part 33 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will consider fire protection in institutional residential buildings. 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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