The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Firefighter Safety – Part 68

February 21, 2022 12:41 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 67, LWF looked at societal concern and how it affects fire safety. In part 68, we discuss the safety of and risk to firefighters.

It is understood and accepted that the level of risk firefighters are exposed to when carrying out their duties far exceeds the level of risk that would be acceptable for members of the public.

Fire Service operations on site include an initial dynamic risk assessment upon arrival at the site of the fire. This assessment will include factors such as the type of premises, the type and severity of the fire and whether or not there are any building occupants still in danger.

As proceedings develop, the risk assessment is updated and changes are made to the initial approach as necessary. The high risk level is mitigated by the high levels of training received by Fire Service personnel and their PPE equipment, which comprises heat-resistant clothing and breathing apparatus.

It would not be appropriate or possible for the person responsible for fire safety within the organisation to control risk to firefighters to the same level as other building occupants.

It is possible and necessary for the risk to firefighters to be considered during building design. The building should be designed bearing in mind that firefighters may need to attend and carry out their duties without exposure to unnecessary risks. In practical terms, this commonly means ensuring that good industry practice is followed or alternative design solutions are made which present an equivalent (or increased) level of fire protection.

Fire engineers working on a design team for a build can incorporate the use of technological tools to assess the potential fire risks to firefighters in a given building. Evacuation models and fire models are often used to provide input for risk assessment.

Some of the possible design decisions made on this basis include firefighting shafts which might contain firefighting stairways or lifts and wet or dry risers in firefighting lobbies.

In part 69 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will look at commercial and financial interests when designing fire safe buildings and how losses can be mitigated. 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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