The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Means of Escape Design – Part 93

August 8, 2022 11:19 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 92, LWF began to look at means of escape in terms of designing with life safety in mind. In part 93, we continue on that subject by considering evacuation strategies.

In many situations, an evacuation strategy may be exactly what is pictured by most people; an alarm is raised due to fire and all building occupants leave the building simultaneously and go outside to a place of safety.

However, not all buildings and situations are suitable for simultaneous evacuation and may require variations for fire safety purposes, such as:

  • The provision and use of protected refuges where people with disabilities can await assistance to evacuate, protected from fire and smoke.
  • Apartment buildings, where the residences are separated by fire-resistant construction and commonly, building occupants not in the same compartment as the fire can wait in place.
  • Healthcare buildings such as hospitals, where progressive horizontal evacuation is used to minimise disruption to patients, by moving those in the fire-affected area to adjoining fire compartments.
  • In tall buildings, where phased evacuation is adopted and only the floor of fire origin/adjacent floors (above and below) are evacuated in the first instance.
  • Very high rise buildings are sometimes provided with protected refuge levels, to avoid prolonged and tiring evacuation to ground level. The refuges allow people to wait safely until they are required to evacuate or the fire is attended by the Fire Service.
  • Some facilities where the function undertaken cannot be interrupted, for instance, air traffic control, in these cases it may be necessary for the evacuation of key personnel to be delayed.
  • Prisons or some mental health facilities where escape is provided into adjoining secure areas or a secure compound.

The evacuation strategy employed must be suitable for the building and occupancy and part of the fire safety design. It would not be acceptable to alter the arrangements in place for convenience or for any other reason than improved safety of the occupants.

In part 94 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will discuss the guidance documents available for the design of means of escape in the UK and abroad. 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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