The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – What is fire engineering? – Part 4

October 13, 2020 10:51 am

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 3 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked at fire engineering from the perspective of fire safety in healthcare environments. In part 4, we consider what fire engineering is, from the perspective of fire safety in healthcare environments.

The Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) provides the following definition of fire engineering:

The application of scientific and engineering principles based on an understanding of the phenomena and effects of fire and of the behaviour of people to fire, to protect people, property and the environment from the destructive effects of fire.’

The most consistent primary aim of fire engineering is to provide an acceptable level of safety when a fire occurs. This can often involve modelling or calculation of various scenarios which address all or part of the fire system.

Fire engineering brings together knowledge of various areas in order to form a consideration of the project in hand. Chemistry is important when considering the behaviour of materials if a fire occurs; Physics is required to assess heat transfer and the movement of smoke; Civil, electrical and mechanical engineering relates to the behaviour of technologies and systems; an element of Psychology is necessary to understand and predict the behaviour of building occupants if a fire was to occur. In addition, it’s important for any fire engineered plan to consider and allow for the procedures used by firefighters and those issues relating to the management of large complex buildings.

Challenges can be encountered when dealing with everyday practicalities such as the need for ventilation, building security or a particular type of structure, which may conflict with fire safety priorities.

Fire safety engineering is approached systemically to avoid omissions in the analysis. Any such oversight could prove life-threatening. BS 7974 – Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings. Code of practice outlines an approach to the design process which begins with qualitative design review, follows on to a quantitative design review and if it fails at that point, returns to the qualitative design review stage. Only upon the review passing would the results be reported and the process finish.

In Part 5 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will look at the design process for fire engineering 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 LWF on freephone 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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