The benefits of fire engineering consultancy

When considering the fire safety and smoke control measures for a building, engaging with expert fire engineering consultants has a number of advantages for the project, including the ability to overcome challenges with the building’s design, whilst remaining true to the architect’s intention.

Effective fire safety and smoke control systems are vital to ensure the safety of building occupants. However, the individual characteristics of each project means that compliance with the regulations can be complex and there may be several ways to achieve the required level of safety.

Fire Engineering - Approved Document B
The standard methodology is to take a code compliant approach, which strictly adopts the systems and products recommended in Approved Document B (ADB). While this provides a simpler solution, for many projects it can be restrictive, limiting the design freedom of architects and not making the most efficient use of space.

In contrast, fire engineering consultants can evaluate the building plans and suggest adaptations to the standard approach where required. This tailored plan will help fulfil the project requirements in terms of design and layout while meeting or even exceeding the fire safety standards.

For example, the natural smoke ventilation system recommended by ADB may be replaced by a more efficient mechanical smoke ventilation system (MSVS) that will clear smoke faster in the event of a fire. This allows larger open plan spaces to be created and negates the need to add additional staircases. The result is the opportunity to use space more efficiently within the building, and for developers and building owners this means a greater useable area.

Furthermore, when working on refurbishment projects where the building was not originally designed and constructed in line with modern standards, consultants can provide solutions that will allow the key features of the building to be retained while satisfying all current regulations. For example, escape routes in older buildings may be longer or narrower than modern standards recommend and so a insightful solution is required to minimise the number of changes.

Bespoke Fire Engineering

When creating a bespoke plan for a building it is important to know that it will function as intended when installed. Consultants will often use advanced digital tools and techniques to develop the optimum solution and prove its effectiveness.

For example, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling uses a virtual representation of the building to accurately predict the spread of the fire, smoke and heat. From this analysis, a solution can be formulated, tested and refined. Digital technologies also allow evacuations to be modelled in real time to demonstrate that the safety of building occupants has been achieved.

CFD Modelling Diagram - fire engineering

Finally, engaging with fire engineering consultants early in the project is important as it is in the initial stages that their expertise and guidance can have the greatest impact on the final result.

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Partnering with a specialist who will work with you at every stage of the design and build also allows updates to the fire strategy to be made swiftly and efficiently if elements of the project change. Fire engineering consultants will also help gain approvals from building control for the chosen strategy as the project nears completion.

Taking a bespoke, fire engineered approach to the building design can help architects achieve their vision for the project, allow building owners to optimise the layout of the property and provide contractors with greater cost certainty and fewer project delays.

Call today and speak to one of our fire design consultants to find out how an engineered approach can help +44 (0)1322 387411

Smoke Ventilation System Maintenance

As many building owners know, the maintenance of any element of their property is vital to maximise the comfort – and even the safety – of a property’s occupants, while also preventing the need for expensive repair works to be carried out in the future.

This is especially true from a fire-safety perspective.

Not only do a building’s fire safety systems work to safeguard building occupants and assets, they also allow a property to pass Building Regulations in the first place.

This is why it’s vital to ensure that any fire safety systems installed are also maintained and routinely serviced throughout a building’s ongoing use. This ensures they operate as efficiently as intended, in line with the property’s initial fire safety strategy, which is vital in any situation, but particularly in commercial or residential premises with large-scale or complex fire and life safety systems.

From smoke detectors and alarms, which alert residents and help firefighters to locate the source of a fire, to smoke ventilation systems, which provide a safe escape route and clear access for the fire services, each system has an important role to play in a building’s overall level of safety. The consequences of failing to maintain a life safety system can be dire.

Smoke Ventilation System Maintenance Regulation

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, companies are deemed responsible for providing the correct level of fire safety on their premises. As any fire safety systems installed form part of a building’s fire strategy, the RRO calls for the appointment of a responsible person to ensure that all of this equipment is maintained and in good working order. If this isn’t carried out, it is considered an offence, and can result in the prosecution of the building’s owner or manager. If a system fails during a fire there is also a potential for injury and loss of life.

Similarly, British Standards BS 7346:1-1990, BS 5588:12-2004 and The Buildings Regulations Approved Document B (ADB) also requires systems to be serviced regularly and maintained to a high standard, leaving no ambiguity as to whether this is mandatory.

Benefits of Routine Maintenance

Carrying out routine maintenance can also provide significant cost savings, as preventative upkeep can allow systems to run more efficiently for longer, and inspections can identify issues before they can develop into costly system failures.

While some buildings may have maintenance staff that can undertake some checks, it makes sense to have an expert regularly check and maintain systems – particularly when you consider the cost of fines for non-compliance, or the potential loss of income from an office being closed by the local fire service.

Fire Design Solutions Maintenance

Regardless of the system’s manufacturer or installer, Fire Design Solutions’ team of experts will visit your premises twice a year, undertaking complete tests of the fire alarm and smoke detection systems, in order to ensure the building stays compliant with key legislation like the RRO.

Along with visual inspections, the team will also undertake a rigorous 15-point test of each component throughout the building, keeping you compliant and keeping your occupants safe. In the event of a system failure, we also offer a 24-hour emergency call out service, and each visit, whether a callout or routine scheduled maintenance, will be thoroughly documented.

For more information on our service and maintenance offering, contact us:

Located between the Putney Mainline and East Putney railway stations in Southwest London, the London Square Putney residential development provides high-quality living spaces to its residents, as well as excellent transport links to the city.

London Square PutneyDeveloped by London Square, the 11 storey scheme comprises of 113 one, two and three bedroom apartments, in addition to The Terrace Collection – a selection of 11 two and three bedroom premium apartments which are arranged over the four upper floors of the building.

During the first construction phase, sister company FDS Consult was appointed to provide smoke control and ventilation consultancy expertise for the above ground residential and car parking areas. London Square then called upon the Fire Design Solutions (FDS) team to supply, install and commission a number of smoke ventilation systems to ensure the safety of the development’s residents.

Due to the scale and layout of the development, a Mechanical Smoke Ventilation System (MSVS) was specified in order to quickly remove smoke from escape routes in the event of fire, keeping these areas clear for residents exiting the building as well as providing access for attending fire service personnel.

The system utilises powered fans and a mechanical shaft which serves the common corridor and lobby areas. If smoke is detected, the system will open automatic fire dampers to the smoke shaft on the affected floor, as well as the vent at the head of the stairway.

London Square PutneyThe fan at the top of the smoke shaft will then activate to remove smoke while also keeping it from spreading into nearby areas. Pressure controlled door closers can then depressurise the stair area, pulling fresh air through the lobby, preventing the movement of smoke into the stair area through which residents will escape.

In addition to the MSVS, smoke detection and sprinkler monitoring systems, London Square also requested the installation of FDS’ new chiller air cooler system to maximise occupants’ comfort during day-to-day use.

Consisting of a chiller unit and fan mounted at roof level and connected to the building’s ducted environmental shaft, the system supplies cold air to the common areas when required, while acoustic silencers fitted to the inlet and outlet of the fan help to keep operating noise to a minimum.

Following FDS’ work on the now-occupied phase 1 section of the Putney development, London Square has once again appointed the award-winning smoke ventilation contractors to provide the same systems for its second phase.

For more information about this project please download the case study or contact us on 01322 387411 / email [email protected]