The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Performance based design principles – Part 44

August 31, 2021 10:39 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 43, LWF began to discuss performance-based design principles. In part 44, we will continue to talk about fire engineering and performance-based design principles.

Large and complex buildings can provide fire safety challenges that cannot be dealt with satisfactorily by following prescriptive fire safety solutions. For example, in the UK, the Health Technical Memorandum ‘Fire Code’ 05-02 recommends a qualitative design review for large and complex healthcare buildings by a design team including one or more fire engineers. There are various reasons for such a recommendation but fulfilment of design objectives, insurance requirements and a consideration for effective use of budget will no doubt be among them.

That is not to say that established fire safety design codes do not have value. While it may be possible to base an entire fire safety design on risk assessment and fire safety engineering techniques, it would be remiss not to consider what is commonly the most used, tested and practical approach. Most often, a large or complex building will present a fire safety solution that is a combination of established fire safety design and fire engineered innovation.

It is almost certain that no two building projects are the same. Even if the same plans were used for two separate buildings, they would still be situated in different areas, for instance. No single set of calculations or procedures can be applied to all building types and all circumstances. This complexity means that any fire engineered solution must involve more care and responsibility from the designer than the application of standard guidance.

A fire engineer employed for any building project must be suitably experienced and qualified. Appropriate professional qualifications are a requirement, of course, but also that the individual or organisation providing fire engineering expertise must have experience of projects of a similar scale and complexity to one in question. Suitable qualifications include Chartered Membership of the Institution of Fire Engineers (CEng, MIFireE) or in the U.S. the Professional Licensure of Fire Protection Engineers by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (P.E.)

In part 45 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will begin to examine design objectives, starting with life safety. 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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