The Benefits of Fire Engineering
Modern buildings need to prioritise safety all while exploring modern construction techniques and delivering the architect’s aesthetic vision.
Conventional approaches to fire engineering and smoke ventilation sometimes require modifications that conflict with the architect’s original design or specification. As the leading fire safety consultancy, we don’t believe in compromising our client’s projects, we believe in finding creative ways of working with them to achieve their goals.
Fire engineering uses scientific and engineering principles, based on the understanding of the effects of fire, the reaction and behaviour of humans and animals to fire, and how to protect people, property and the environment.
Buildings are often designed to comply with standard fire regulations, and for most buildings, this is often the simplest approach. However, for more advanced or more complex development, a code-compliant solution can severely restrict freedom for the design.
Whereas, a fire-engineered solution can achieve architectural design aspirations, and commercial objectives as well as maintain higher standards of fire safety.
Taking a fire-engineered approach may achieve complete compliance as well as the following benefits:
- Extended travel distances
- Reduce staircase/exit requirements
- Allows use of non-standard escape routes
- Allows greater design flexibility and open-plan arrangements
- Maximise floor space resulting in increased revenue
- Allows greater freedom in material use
- Maximise non-fire-rated facade areas
- Reduce fire protection to the structure
- Provides alternative methods of maintaining compartmentation
- Maximise use and performance of fire safety systems provided
- Minimise fire safety systems such as sprinklers & fire alarms
- Achieve construction cost savings
Early engagement means added value
When considering incorporating fire safety into any project, whether it’s a new build, a refurbishment, or a commercial or residential development, one of the main priorities must be to ensure the safety of the building’s occupants.
Engaging with fire engineering and smoke ventilation specialist consultants early in the process means this can be achieved with ease, whilst also maximising space and improving cost efficiency.
The benefit of early engagement & collaboration
Often, those wishing to overcome challenges that have presented themselves within a fire safety strategy, have seen a positive impact from engaging with specialist fire engineering experts.
It’s important to be aware that with a fire-engineered approach there can be drastic variations between solutions that would be right for each project. This means all proposals must be submitted, with evidence as to their effectiveness, to Building Control for approval.
This slightly more complex approval process means more time is required for the strategy to be approved – another important reason why fire engineer experts should be contacted as early on as possible.
Here are six key elements to an effective fire strategy:
- Legislation – ensuring the build will comply with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
- Means of escape – ensuring the building complies with the required width and height, clear openable area and windowsill height of all windows
- The fire spread and control – taking measures to reduce the area in which the fire can spread, thus controlling the fire
- Construction – everyone involved in the construction must comply with their legal duties relating to fire safety
- Fire service access – ensuring unobstructed access to a building for fire services members
- Fire safety management – a management plan for the building including evacuations procedures, maintenance and testing requirements and much more
Taking into consideration all these important factors in fire safety, early collaboration with experienced consultants can lead to several long-term benefits and reduced issues later down the line.
Careful planning at an early stage can allow for mechanical smoke ventilation systems to be specified and employed. Combined with bespoke and intelligent fire strategies, smoke ventilation solutions can allow for the creation of larger-sized rooms, extended travel distances and, in some cases, the entire removal of staircases.
Initial costs of mechanical smoke ventilation systems equipment and installation can be offset by the extra saleable space available to the owner of the building. Fire engineering experts can tailor a solution where required so that required changes can be kept to a minimum.
Fire safety best practices
Above all, the safety of the building’s occupants is paramount when designing a fire safety solution for a property, whether it is residential or commercial. With an early partnership, the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling can be implemented to predict the movement of heat and smoke from fires, allowing the best course of action can be identified.
Collaborating with fire safety engineers in a project’s early stages ensures you will identify the most suitable fire safety design that will satisfy the needs of the building owner, architect and contractors all whilst meeting fire safety legislation that will ensure that occupants’ protection is fully considered.
Architects and fire engineering
An integral part of every construction project, architects have a keen eye for detail and invest vast amounts of time and energy into designing the aesthetic elements of a building. Beyond the aesthetic design of the building, they must also consider other aspects such as structural integrity, costs, sustainability and, of course, fire safety and compliance.
All these factors are part and parcel of the creation of a new building and architects may well be aware of the fire safety requirements and strive to create safe buildings. However, the involvement of fire engineers can help to achieve increased design freedom without ever having to compromise on safety.
Typically, architects work within the scope of code-compliant fire safety solutions; however, by working with dedicated fire engineers from the earliest possible stage, construction costs and project times can be drastically reduced.
By adopting an engineered approach, fire engineers can suggest possible methods of overcoming fire safety issues within a design as it is being created and incorporate fire safety within the holistic building design, rather than modifying plans at a later stage, with potentially costly implications. Through this collaboration, a more cohesive design can be created, without the need for compromises to be made.
What to do next
Speak to one of our experienced, expert consultants today to discover how FDS uses fire engineering to pair fire safety with innovative design.