The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Performance based design principles – Part 43

August 24, 2021 8:37 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 42, LWF looked at fire precautions for storage buildings and other non-residential buildings. In part 43, we begin to discuss performance-based design principles.

The use of performance-based design to satisfy the requirements of a given jurisdiction is now commonplace. Statutory requirements provide a ‘deemed to satisfy’ fire safety solution which is primarily related to life safety and relates to common building types, but there are alternative methods of meeting fire safety standards.

International design codes, such as NFPA 101 and BS 7974 have acknowledged and included the use of fire engineered techniques as a means of satisfying the statutory requirements.

National Fire Protection Association – NFPA 101 Life Safety Code

British Standards – BS 7974

It should also be noted that as the statutory requirements are a minimum requirement for life safety purposes, a fire engineered design may exceed basic life safety requirements by employing additional measures designed to protect property and contents, but which can have the additional effects of extended tenability, breathability, visibility and therefore, potentially extended evacuation times for any building occupants.

Risk assessment plays an essential part in the development of fire engineered design, whether the emphasis lies in life safety, property protection or business continuity. The process allows the design team to address a range of objectives:

  • Life safety for building occupants
  • Prevention of conflagration
  • Protection of building structure
  • Protection of building contents
  • Protecting business continuity
  • Protection of the environment
  • Protection of animals

The fire engineer will also need to consider other factors which can significantly affect the design solution:

  • Building security requirements
  • Cost/Budget
  • Aesthetics
  • Building functionality
  • Management capabilities (fire safety management)
  • Sustainability/Maintainability
  • Legal framework & requirements
  • Requirements of approvals bodies

Fire safety engineering may be a necessity to achieve the required standard of safety in a large or complex building, but equally, it may be used to vary one aspect of a design that otherwise follows prescriptive guidance. One example of this is an otherwise standard building with an atrium.

In part 44 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue to talk about fire engineering and performance-based design principles. 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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