The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Fire Safety Design Process – Part 48

September 27, 2021 11:05 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 47, LWF looked at how multiple safeguards should be in place to avoid a single catastrophic failure in fire safety design. In part 48, we begin to address the fire safety design process and the four main stages involved.

Several guidance documents and standards lay out a similar four-stage process for undertaking a fire safety engineered design:

  • Qualitative design review
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Assessment against criteria
  • Results reporting

It should be noted that at the third stage – assessment against criteria – the process may revert back to the start point if the results are not deemed satisfactory.


Qualitative Design Review

When commencing a project, the first stage is to establish the parameters involved. The scheme should be reviewed and any overriding constraints identified. The design objectives should be defined and laid out.

The scope of the fire safety design is defined during the QDR process, along with performance criteria, leading to one or more potential design solutions being proposed. These are often known as trial designs. Key information should also be gathered to enable detailed evaluation during quantitative analysis.

It is important that the occupancy of the building and design fire scenarios are also established.

The proposed fire safety design(s) should provide adequate flexibility for future use and any constraints should be discussed with the client. It would not be acceptable for the fire safety design to rely on unrealistic management procedures, for example. The Fire Engineer should be clear in regards to any unrealistic requests which might result in conditions which are difficult to achieve or maintain in the future.

The main stages of a Qualitative Design Review are as follows:

  • Architectural design and occupant characteristics reviewed
  • Fire safety objectives established
  • Fire hazards and potential consequences identified
  • Trial fire safety designs established
  • ‘What If’ Assessment carried out (see previous blog)
  • Acceptance criteria and methods of analysis identified
  • Fire scenarios for analysis established

In part 49 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will look at the processes involved in the next stage of the fire safety design process – Quantitative Analysis. 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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