The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Designing Fire Precautions – Part 39

July 26, 2021 10:53 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 38, LWF looked at fire precautions for shops and commercial premises, starting with automatic fire suppression, before listing the key factors for assembly and recreational buildings. In part 39, we continue to discuss fire precautions in assembly and recreational buildings.

In the UK, firefighters are called out to more than 40 school fires a month, according to the annual statistics. In educational buildings, cases of arson are very high and the Arson Prevention Forum states that arson is responsible for 45% of fires in schools, but 80% of serious fires. A part of the reason for this is that fires that start by accident tend to do so in areas considered a fire risk – perhaps the kitchens or a science lab – and staff would take action, or fire precautions will be higher in those areas because of the additional fire risk. Fires set on purpose are commonly in an area not immediately visible and therefore the fire has time to grow before it is discovered.

There are strong links between arson prevention and effective security of a building, but it is more common to see security personnel in a privately owned commercial building than at an educational establishment.

If more schools were to install water suppression systems (sprinkler systems) then the automatic suppression system would trigger at an early stage, preventing increased danger from fire to occupants and financial and educational losses from damage to the building and contents.

When designing fire precautions for this purpose group, fire development characteristics should be taken into account. Certain traditional and passive fire protective elements for limiting the spread of fire can be altered to suit the requirements of the prospective occupancy. For example, larger room volumes may be acceptable if the fire load is relatively low, compartmentation limits can be exceeded and extended travel distances can be allowed where the resulting increased fire risks are mitigated by the provision of active fire protection systems, such as smoke control systems and sprinklers.

In part 40 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue to look at the design of fire precautions in educational, recreation and assembly 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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