The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Legislation – Part 5

December 2, 2020 11:00 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 4, LWF looked at the development of building and fire safety legislation in the UK including the impact of the Grenfell Tower disaster. In part 5, we look at how and when performance-based building regulations were introduced in England and Wales.

In 1985, the first performance-based Building Regulations were introduced in England and Wales, allowing architects and designers to demonstrate compliance with functional requirements through the use of fire engineering design.

Before 1985, all building and fire safety requirements were prescribed, which limited the way in which a construction project could be approached.

The change was followed in 1997 by the introduction of British Standard DD 240: 1997 Fire Safety Engineering in buildings: Guide to the application of fire safety engineering principles (which was superseded by BS 7974) and the first edition of CIBSE Guide E.

Many other countries also introduced performance-based requirements, with others preferring to retain prescriptive requirements.
Supporting guidance was needed for the effective use of performance requirement-based construction and fire safety. In England and Wales, the Approved Documents were created, along with the Technical Handbooks in Scotland and Technical Booklets in Northern Ireland. In 2009, the Welsh Assembly was granted devolved responsibility for building regulations and so the Approved Documents in Wales are now separate from those issued in England.

All the supporting guidance in the UK demonstrates that alternative ways of demonstrating compliance are acceptable, including the use of fire engineering principles.

In 2008, BS 9999 Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings was published (Currently, BS 9999:2017). BS 9999 is not a guide to fire engineering principles, but sits between general prescriptive guidance – such as the Approved Documents and Technical Handbooks – and performance-based fire engineering guides, such as CIBSE Guide E and BS 7974.

A fire safety designer in the UK effectively has three ways of approaching a project in terms of fire safety design:

i) A generic or simplified approach through the Approved Documents and Technical Handbooks

ii) An advanced approach through BS 9999

iii) A performance-based engineering approach

This series of blogs will concentrate in the main on the third approach, that of performance-based fire engineering solutions.

In part 6 of LWF’s series on fire engineering will look at the role of a fire engineer in terms of their competency and responsibilities. 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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