Façades and Fire Safety – Fire Safety Engineering Route: The holistic approach

Fcades  Fire Safety Performnace Route Blog 5 692x237

Throughout history, high rise constructions have always been a testing ground for new ideas and pioneering approaches. 2015 was no different as Shanghai Tower, with its iconic twisted form, officially became the second tallest building in the world, whilst the (quite literally) greener approach to high rise design seen on Bosco Verticale saw it crowned ’Best Tall Building Worldwide‘ at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s annual awards.

From a fire safety perspective, this innovation brings obvious challenges, as a wide variety of construction materials are brought together in new ways. To fully understand fire risk it is, therefore, vital to take a more holistic view of building design with a Fire Safety Engineering approach.

The Fire Safety Engineering approach is cited as the fourth option in the latest version of BCA Technical Guidance Note 18. Through applied scientific and engineering principles, this approach not only considers the performance of structures, systems, products and materials when exposed to fire, it also includes fire prevention and active and passive fire protection measures e.g. effective means of egress and adequate measures for alarm, detection, control and extinguishment.

By accounting for the complex relationships between materials, it can facilitate innovation in building design without compromising fire safety, particularly in some large and complex buildings, as well as multi–purpose buildings, where it may be the only practical way to achieve a satisfactory level of fire safety. When applied correctly this should allow better, and more consistent levels of fire safety to be achieved across all buildings, regardless of design, location or construction materials.

When using this route to compliance, it is recommended that the guidance given in BS 7974: 2001 (Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings. Code of practice), BS 9999:2008 (Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings), BS 9991:2015 (Fire safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings. Code of practice), and (IFEG: 2005) International Fire Engineering Guidelines, are followed.

Fire risk is, of course, just one consideration when selecting a façade system and in the final blog in this series, which will be posted shortly, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the other factors which need to be considered.

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Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of optimum, premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems for building fabric and building services applications.

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