The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Fire Detection & Alarm Systems – Part 132

May 15, 2023 11:03 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 131, LWF looked at the local codes, standards and principal guidance documents for fire alarm systems protection. In part 132, we continue to look at the necessity for fire alarm and detection systems in different types of buildings and occupancies.

There are various factors which may have an influence on whether a fire alarm system is deemed necessary in a building:

  • The size of the building
  • The complexity of the building
  • If the building is mixed use
  • If there may be persons sleeping in the building
  • If the building contains multiple tenancies
  • If there are any areas of particularly high fire risk

A small, single-storey office with only a few small rooms, a few employees and no access to the public may not need to have a fire alarm installation (if it could be assumed that the person discovering a fire could shout ‘FIRE!’ and all persons on the premises would be able to hear and evacuate safely).

A department store or shopping complex, however, is highly likely to require a comprehensive fire alarm and fire detection system due to the overall size and complexity of the building, the fact there will be members of the public on site and the potential for high risk activities.

Codes and standards for fire alarm systems are concerned with life safety. However, there may be a need for property protection from fire, or for a fire detection and alarm system to ensure business continuity.

The protection may be aimed at protecting an unoccupied area of a building, high value assets or any part of the business which is critical to its continuance. It may be that there are particular requirements set out by the building owner, client, occupier, or by their insurer.

If the building’s fire protection design has been designed by a life safety code consultant or a fire engineer, it is necessary to ensure that any fire detection and fire alarm system works as part of or successfully alongside their requirements. It is likely that any fire engineered solution requiring a fire detection system will have explicitly stated such in order to achieve the required life of fire safety protection.

In part 133 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue to discuss the use of fire detection and alarm systems. 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 since 1986 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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