In a two-part article, Jane Embury looks at fire safety. In this first part, she welcomes a new culture to put safety first.
A safe building, particularly a complex one, will have been designed from the outset with safety firmly in mind.
Responsible designers and contractors will have responsible people in place to ensure that all aspects of building and fire safety are considered and reviewed.
That legislative requirement has been strengthened by the Building Safety Bill that now puts much greater emphasis on safety from design to well after building delivery.
While each has to meet different regulations, each must start with a comprehensive fire risk assessment.
That assessment guides the design team from initial concept through to fire extinguishers, alarms, detectors, lighting, signage and automatic suppression systems.
Of course, it’s not just about fire prevention. It’s also about appropriate training for staff to manage evacuation and, where appropriate, the use of fire-fighting equipment.
That is the duty of one or more competent persons to ensure that fire safety arrangements are in place, and that all staff understand them.
It’s an approach that requires professional fire safety advice where necessary and ensures that evacuation times and travel distances are adequate.
But we’ve recently written on safe evacuation and how computer modelling can provide over-optimistic assumptions on the time taken to evacuate.
In England and Wales, fire safety comes under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Scotland, the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Northern Ireland, the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.
Those regulations require that a competent person completes a fire risk assessment that considers all aspects of fire safety. That includes both the design and actual construction of buildings.
Following the Grenfell disaster, Building a Safer Future, written by Dame Judith Hackitt, made over 50 recommendations.
It called for a “radical rethink” of the building regulations system, and the government has just passed the Building Safety Bill.
The government is now committed to work with industry to improve building regulations and fire safety guidance. Plans include a new Building Safety Regulator.
It adds up to a new culture in the building industry towards higher standards of safety. That extends from design, through to construction and post-build management.
Fire safety is at the heart off building safety. Fire protection measures are classified as either active or passive. Active fire protection measures include, for example, sprinklers, fire alarms or emergency lighting.
Passive fire protection measures are structural measures that help prevent the spread of fire and smoke.
That’s where Wrightstyle’s expertise lies. We understand fire dynamics and how advanced glazing systems can mitigate against fire and toxic gases.
By limiting its spread, buildings can be safely evacuated. With the fire contained in one place, there will also be a business to come back to.
In the second part of this article, I’ll look in greater depth at compartmentation.
Photo: The Hong Kong Museum of Art for which we recently supplied advance systems.