The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Regulatory Approvals – Part 11

January 11, 2021 12:05 pm

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 10, LWF began to look at the regulatory approvals processes outside of Europe and in part 11, we continue by discussing how a fire engineer should work within the regulatory approvals process in China and the US.

In the main, China has adopted a prescriptive approach to design and has published code guidance laying out fire safety requirements. The local fire officer is designated as the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Where a more challenging building design is proposed, and therefore, the fire safety solution must fall outside prescriptive requirements, the AHJ will make an application to the provincial or national fire authority which, in turn, will commission an expert panel review. The findings of the review will be relayed to the local fire officer who is responsible for implementation and also for inspection to ensure all requirements have been met.

In the U.S., building fire safety regulation is based on quite a complex system. Codes and standards are developed by various organisations in the country and are adopted on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis. A consensus-style system of development is employed to ascertain the codes and standards which become a model and to minimise the influence of any single constituency.

The codes and standards are adopted through legislation at State or local jurisdictional level. The legislation adopts specific codes and standards, but often with local amendments. Some states require local jurisdictions, such as cities and counties, to adopt the state-adopted codes without further amendments, while others allow local amendments.

There are also entities which are exempt from state regulations and which may establish their own regulations, these are recognised by the Government.

With such a varying range of prescriptive regulation across the states, it is something of a relief that in the context of fire engineered design solutions, there is cohesion. All of the model codes in the U.S. allow for alternative means and methods of design and construction, if the alternative solution can be shown to be equivalent in terms of safety to the level achieved by the prescriptive codes.

In part 12 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will continue looking at the U.S. and the required process for a fire-engineered design. 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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