The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Fire Engineer Responsibilities – Part 8

December 21, 2020 11:02 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 7, LWF discussed the integrated approach taken by fire engineers in recent years to encompass modern construction methods. In part 8, we will examine the responsibilities of a fire engineer when working on a project with a design team.

A fire engineer’s first responsibility when working with a design team and stakeholders is to begin developing a fire strategy and the initial stage of that should be in laying out the goals and objectives.

In the UK, this is known as a qualitative design review and is defined by BS 7974. In the International Fire Engineering Guidelines for Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada, it is known as a fire engineering brief.

The fire safety goals can be defined as those high-level priorities the fire safety strategy is designed to meet and will include life safety as well as any stakeholder aims such as property protection, heritage, asset, content protection and business continuation.

The fire engineer is responsible for the development of solutions, taking into account how they should be applied during the construction phase and how they will be implemented during building operation. The solutions should also contribute towards sustainable development. The ability of the solution to meet these parameters is a requirement of all engineers registered with the Engineering Council.

There may be additional goals which are contractual. These may be a part of the employer’s requirements or specific stakeholder goals. All relevant goals must be determined by the project stakeholders and clearly documented.

Once the goals are established, the objectives required to meet the goals should be outlined. The objective required to meet a goal may be as simple as following relevant code recommendations. Any requirement may be met by using a performance-based approach, but it may be that a goal can be satisfied using a combination of a code-based and a performance-based design. Whatever methodology is used, it should be clearly documented.

Prescriptive codes are usually only appropriate for generic types of buildings. Where a performance-based fire safety solution is required, a detailed audit trail may be required to document the decision-making process.

Where the individuals tasked with design approval do not have sufficient competence to check the fire engineering strategy for soundness, then third-party validation should be sought through a competent fire engineer.

In part 9 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will discuss the approvals process for fire safety design. 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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