The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Fire Engineering & Legislation – Part 12

January 18, 2021 12:05 pm

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 11, LWF looked at the regulatory approvals processes in the USA. In part 12, we begin to discuss legislation throughout the building life cycle, starting with during building design and construction.

While it is necessary for a fire strategy to be approved by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), the fire engineer must rely on their own standards and knowledge to ensure that the fire safety design is adequate and fit for purpose. In many jurisdictions, the AHJ will have no design responsibility and therefore the onus for adequacy rests entirely with the fire engineer.

In the UK, responsibility for regulatory compliance resides with the fire engineer and the AHJ does not have liability in relation to the design. The AHJ’s role is to check the design for compliance, but they are not responsible for any mistakes or miscalculations by a fire engineer that may lead to non-compliance, or indeed, any that may result in a fire situation.

The person who is seen to be carrying out the work is the client and therefore it is with them that the responsibility lies for ensuring the work adheres to Building Regulations. The client’s building contractor is therefore responsible for ensuring the work they undertake complies with Building Regulations and in guaranteeing the quality of the build meets design intent and the objectives of the fire strategy.

The end user of the building, whether the building owner or a tenant, must be made aware of the content of the fire safety design. Without this information, the occupant or persons responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the building cannot ensure standards are maintained and the fire safety design is intact.

At the design stage, the responsibility for working within relevant statutory regulation is held by the lead designer. Where fire safety design is required on a more complex building, a fire engineer is usually incorporated into the design team to provide that expertise. In many cases, the fire engineer’s input is restricted to the design stage, with the intention that their design will be carried out during construction. However, in recent years, it has become more commonplace for the fire engineer to be involved during the construction phase too, to provide assurance that the design is implemented appropriately.

In part 13 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue looking at how statutory requirements should be implemented in the construction and handover phases of a build. 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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