8 minute read

Fire engineering

fire engineering

A holistic approach

Could a holistic approach to fire engineering improve the effectiveness of fire strategies and simplify the approvals process for fire and rescue services and enforcement agencies? Paul Bryant reports on a new concept that aims to do just that.

Enforcement agencies will be able to register free of charge on the scheme's website where they will be able to view all projects in their jurisdiction using HFE.

Fire and rescue services and civil defence authorities around the world are often tasked with rubber stamping the fire safety design of new building projects. In an age where budget cuts are the norm and building design is increasingly elaborate, it is becoming more difficult for authorities to spend the time and resources to properly check complex fire strategies.

A new process aims to combine the latest thinking in fire strategies with online connectivity in order to improve the consistency and coverage of a typical fire strategy and make that strategy easier to assess and approve. Currently in development, the objective is to create a quick and effective method of reviewing a fire strategy against an ‘ideal’ baseline strategy for any given building risk profile.

A building fire can be the outcome of an increasing array of threats, but many fire strategies don’t include a proper analysis of threats at the early stages. Phrases such as ‘extreme events are not considered…’ are still included in many current fire strategies. However, many fires could be avoided if potential threats are properly considered when the building’s fire strategy is formulated.

Objectives setting Compliance with national regulations and standards is still seen as the key objective for most fire safety solutions. Most derive from the US NFPA or UK BSI codes, but all include their own ideas and issues, resulting in subtle variations. Furthermore, national fire codes have traditionally concentrated on life safety. They rarely adequately address issues such as property and asset protection, business continuity, and the protection of the environment. In a world where these issues are becoming much more important, limited objectives setting is a wasted opportunity.

Holistic fire engineering The holistic fire engineering concept was developed by Paul Bryant and Dr Dorota Brzezińska. HFE does not aim to change fire science or the application of fire engineering principles but instead aims to provide a highly auditable framework, a consistent approach and format regardless of building location, and to widen the scope of fire strategies to include threat

assessment and objective setting.

HFE will follow certain guiding principles. Firstly, it will ensure that a fire-engineered solution properly accounts for the real and perceived threats affecting the building, its occupancy, and processes. Extreme events may or may not be included based on a risk evaluation. Secondly, it will consider all objectives, not just those applicable to national regulations, although comparison with national regulations will still be necessary. Finally, it will use all existing recognised means to develop holistic fire strategies.

The analysis and design process will be controlled by a measurement system to allow full auditability and comparison at any stage of the process. The process and metrics must also be transferable on a global level.

How will it work? All the complexity is contained in the HFE metric template, which will guide fire engineering teams through a series of questions prepared by fire strategy experts. Once completed, the results can be reviewed and the strategy submitted for approval.

Enforcement agencies will be able to register free of charge on the scheme's website igni.online, where they will be able to view all projects in their jurisdiction using HFE, grouped into three categories: ongoing, passed for approval, and signed off.

Fire engineering project teams will be able to check that the building process falls within the jurisdiction of an HFE-registered enforcement agency. They can then register online and pay a small fee to access the metric template for that project. The application will allow for uploading drawings, calculations, and fire models, etc.

The metric template is divided into six boxes that present fire engineers with a series of questions covering different aspects of the fire strategy.

Box one covers general information including building use, occupancy, and details such as height, number of floors, area, and construction materials, etc.

Box two covers the main body of the strategy, including questions to determine the design criteria for the building using performance and/or prescriptive requirements. Relevant national fire codes can be referred to as well as how the design may deviate from these requirements. This will consider structural and internal passive fire protection, means of escape, fire detection and warning systems, fire suppression systems and smoke control systems, and fire safety management.

Box three will consider all objectives including life safety, property protection, business continuity, and protection of the environment.

Box four determines if there are threats that could lead to an uncontrolled fire and whether the design criteria adequately allows for these.

Box five determines the fire (strategy) risk index. This can be compared to a typical risk index for the building type. If the risk index is higher than the baseline, the design criteria will need to be revisited.

42 < FIRE & RESCUE < third QUARTER 2018 read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com

fire engineering

Box six is a mock-up exercise using the information determined in the previous boxes to ensure the requirements provide for both consistency and an effective fire strategy.

Once complete, the strategy is submitted to the relevant enforcement agency and there is an option for a peer-review service for added confidence.

Enforcement agencies can review the information online or print it off in an appropriate format. For example, in the UK this would be the Building Regulations – Approved Document B format. If the peer-review option had been used, any areas of concern will be highlighted. The agency can then approve the strategy online, request modifications, or reject it.

The metric template is divided into six boxes that present fire engineers with a series of questions covering different aspects of the fire strategy.

Who could benefit from HFE? The system is designed to benefit all stakeholders. It gives project teams a consistent framework and ensures that the strategy is submitted in an acceptable format. The metric template also quickly identifies areas of concern, saving enforcement agencies time and resources in assessing strategies from first principles.

Building owners and operators can be confident that projects are following a trusted and universal approach to fire strategy preparation. And the audit trail should satisfy any legislators and local/national government that best practices have been followed.

Current status of the project The methodology is in development in Poland, supported by the university, the Polish fire industry, a leading Polish insurance company, and local fire authorities. The development team has completed box five, a semi-quantitative measurement system

for the fire strategy risk profile index. The findings were presented at the SFPE conference in April 2018. Trials are planned in Poland for Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

It is already envisaged that the site will learn from major fires, further improving the metric template. It is also conceivable that continuous improvement of the algorithms behind the metric template could link directly to Building Information Modelling (BIM) systems so that the building design development automatically incorporates the fire safety requirements for the country and building type in question.

www.emergencyuk.com | Hall 5 | NEC | Birmingham | 19-20 September 2018 | www.emergencyuk.com | Hall 5 | NEC | Birmingham | 19-20 September 2

The Emergency Services Show teamwork

This unique two-day event brings together all disciplines from the emergency services sector to discover innovative technology and operational solutions, share their experiences and unite in their collaborative approach to public safety.

Meet over 450 exhibitors, take advantage of free CPD-accredited seminars and learn from product demonstrations.

Hall 5, NEC, Birmingham. Wed 19 – Thu 20 September 2018.

Free visitor entry at www.emergencyuk.com.

Event sponsors

Event supporters

Read our e-magazine at www.hemmingfire.com third QUARTER 2018 < FIRE & RESCUE < 43