The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Designing Fire Precautions – Part 42

August 16, 2021 11:21 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 41, LWF talked about designing fire precautions for industrial buildings. In part 42, we look at fire precautions for storage buildings and other non-residential buildings not covered previously in this series.

The design of fire precautions for a storage building should bear in mind that there are particular characteristics typical of this type of building, which help to shape the plan.

A building used for commercial storage is likely to have higher contents than any other designation – a high amount of stock and a high value. This leads to high fire loads in an area, but usually, low occupancy levels.

There is a history of significant fires in warehousing or storage units and an incidence of fire in buildings of this type involve large volumes and long travel distances.

The use of underground facilities, basement storage for example, can increase the already significant challenges to firefighters attending a fire on the premises.

A standard roof-mounted sprinkler system would not usually be suitable for this building designation – the ceiling height is often too high. Purpose-designed water suppression systems are available which are better equipped to cope with fires in stacked goods or on high racks as they are rack-mounted.

Compartmentation is usually impractical as a fire safety design feature, as this is likely to be difficult to incorporate into the overall design, given the usual requirement for open and accessible warehousing. As compartmentation is such a well-used and established method of controlling the spread of fire and limiting the damage caused, when it is not possible, more active methods of fire protection will be needed to compensate – in this instance, usually fire suppression and smoke ventilation.

Car parks too are considered in this building designation. A fire engineered approach may be beneficial as an examination of the actual risks can often result in a lowering of traditionally applied standards, including the omission of sprinklers where appropriate. Approved Document B allows for sprinkler omission in car parks, whether above or below ground, as and when is appropriate. However, where the car park is considered along with sleeping accommodation above the car park area, it is likely that a water suppression system will be necessary. The potential for increased fire load due to car fuel tanks should be addressed, as should smoke control, probably through either ducted smoke control or the use of jet fans.

In part 43 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will begin to discuss performance-based design principles. 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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