The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Designing Fire Precautions – Part 38

July 19, 2021 11:30 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 37, LWF considered the fire precautions guidelines for shops and other commercial premises. In part 38, we continue to look at fire precautions for shops and commercial premises, starting with automatic fire suppression, before beginning to consider assembly and recreational buildings.

An automatic fire suppression system, commonly a sprinkler system, can be used in suitable premises to suppress the growth of a fire and even extinguish the fire in some circumstances. Their value as an active fire protection method is considerable. In some building designs, for instance in shopping centres or buildings with atriums, an automatic fire suppression system is necessary as part of a fire-engineered design, to ensure safe evacuation and access for the Fire Service.

In shop design, the fire characteristics of that type of building should be considered:

  • The size, growth rate and effects of the selected sprinkler/nozzle response
  • The implications of suppression systems on other active measures, such as smoke control.

It would be pointless to install sprinkler nozzles at a height over 15 m above ground, as the resulting spray would be unable to control a fire starting at ground level. Fire control for high areas is possible through the same systems used for atrium base protection – sidewall or canopy mounted.

The spread of fire laterally can be controlled by fire resisting curtains and the use of window-wetting sprinklers on toughened or laminated glazing that is otherwise not fire-rated.

All fire protection methods which are not directly prescriptive must be a part of a fire engineered design, which is possible when a fire engineer works alongside the design team.

Assembly and recreational buildings

There are various key factors which must be considered when planning fire precautions for buildings of assembly and recreation.

  • There is a history of serious and significant fires in such buildings
  • There is the potential for high life loss due to high occupancy capacity
  • Designs of buildings may involve large volumes and long travel distances
  • The majority of building occupants will be visitors and therefore unfamiliar with layout
  • There is the potential for high fire loads
  • There are extensive controls based on investigations into historical fires
  • Extended height can cause additional challenges
  • The use of underground spaces causes increased risk

In part 39 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue to look at fire protection in assembly and recreational 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.

Share this post