The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Means of Escape Design – Part 94

August 15, 2022 11:56 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 93, LWF considered evacuation strategies for different kinds of building. In part 94, we look at the design codes used for means of escape guidance in the UK and abroad.

The following is not a comprehensive list of all relevant design codes used for means of escape, but an overview of the most commonly used with emphasis on the UK.

Approved Document B: Fire Safety Volume 2: Buildings other than dwelling houses (Section B1 – Means of warning and escape) (HM Government)

Technical Handbook — Non-Domestic (Scottish Government)

BS 9999: 2017 Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings. Code of practice (BSI)

BS 9991: 2015 Fire safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings. Code of practice (BSI)

Health Technical Memorandum 05-02: Firecode. Guidance in support of functional provisions (Fire safety in the design of healthcare premises) (DoH) (pdf)

NFPA 101: Life Safety Code (NFPA)

Australian Building Code Board: National Construction Code (ABCB)

New Zealand Building Code

The codes and guidance for the UK and US are recognised and used throughout the world, although it is always necessary to check for local standards and any amendments required in a given country.

The process in prescriptive codes involves five key stages:

  1. The maximum number of occupants in each part of a given building should be identified to ascertain occupant capacity.
  2. The number and width of exits necessary to accommodate the number of occupants should be determined – after discounting the widest exit.
  3. The degree of protection required for stairs, escape corridors and refuge areas is established.
  4. The distance of travel to nearest exit (or point of relative safety) is acceptable from all points inside the building.
  5. Any other measures required are specified to assist in the use of escape routes, these may be fire detection systems, fire alarms, emergency lighting, signage, security door release etc.

It should be noted that fire engineered design approaches the review of means of escape in a holistic way. This may be a comparison of the available time to escape vs the required time to escape and will include safety factors rather than simply the distance to travel. Equivalent fire-engineered solutions can be proven and used in most places, given the relevant approvals process.

In part 95 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will begin to discuss occupant capacity in more detail.  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.

Share this post