Fire engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people, property, and their environments from the harmful and destructive effects of fire and smoke. It encompasses fire protection engineering which focuses on fire detection, suppression and mitigation and fire safety engineering which focuses on human behaviour and maintaining a tenable environment for evacuation from a fire.
The application of fundamental fire safety scientific and engineering principles has played a major role in liberating architects from the traditional constraints of fire safety design of buildings. As the design and construction of buildings continues to develop, using more materials and becoming more complex and innovative, the application of these fundamental scientific and engineering principles plays a key role in constantly developing and evaluating the knowledgebase that underpins fire safety design.
Currently under the Building Regulations the use of Approved Document B provides simple step by step guidance to fire safety within new buildings and those undergoing refurbishment however it is a rigid and limited approach and can often hamper achieving the design that the Architect or Client envisions and can also impact on the saleable space available.
In more modern times the utilisation of British Standard BS 9999 and BS 7974 allow the engineer to adopt a more flexible approach. The basis of this alternative approach is risk based. The risk assessment process allows each building or structure (whether existing or at the design stage) to be individually assessed for risk and suitable fire safety provision to be made to mitigate those risks. Additionally, while the process has life safety as its first priority, a project can also be risk assessed for business continuity, asset protection and issues which may be specific to that building.
The Fire Engineer will take into account other factors which would have an effect on the finished design. These could include building security requirements, budgetary constraints, the aesthetics, how the building will be managed, how sustainable the plan is and, of course, the legislative framework and approvals process.
We can undertake fire safety strategies for new buildings and for refurbishments, as well as peer reviewing existing strategies as an independent third party.