Our involvement at an early stage adds the most value to a project. By listening to and understanding your needs and undertaking an initial assessment of the project we can identify any fire issues and how we can best support you in achieving your design aspirations.
We can help enable an efficient and effective structural and architectural design at the pre-planning stage by removing certain constraints on the design to allow flexibility and deliver cost savings. By thinking dynamically about cost effective fire solutions and fire related issues at the start of the Building Regulations process we can help prevent delays in planning approval and mitigate severe cost increases, post planning.
Many of our clients have opted for our Concept and Planning service for their tenders, and advised us that it has added value to their bid and also enabled them to suggest innovative alternative proposals.
Guidance for fire safety is generic and can result in buildings being over-engineered and architectural designs limited, whilst still not addressing specific fire risks of a building, due to a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Our innovative, performance based fire engineering strategies are tailored to the specific risks of your building and ensure at least the same level of protection as Approved Document B.
We balance the need for cost effective, feasible designs to meet the functional requirements of the Building Regulations and Fire Service with the need to achieve the architectural integrity of the building. Working pro-actively with the design team we are the direct point of contact for Building Control, Fire Officers and any specialist sub-contractors for fire to ensure that the Building Regulations process runs smoothly, preventing delays in the project schedule and associated costs.
We use our skills and expertise to deliver value engineering. Our innovative approach can enable cost savings, more usable space and design flexibility, such as removing secondary stair cases and sprinklers and optimising smoke control systems.
CFD modelling is invaluable for large or more complex schemes and often provides the evidence to quantify and substantiate that an innovative design is safe for the occupants in the event of fire.
A virtual model of a building is created and trial fire designs are undertaken to observe 'worse case' fire scenarios by assessing the temperature of fire and movement of smoke, time available to escape and/ or the thermal radiation for external fire spread (modelling the external facades of the building as radiating panels and measuring the radiation). Data is analysed to assess issues such as, external fire spread, extended travel distances, single means of escape, open atriums, exit width restrictions and tenability of escape routes and whether the proposed design meets the requirements of the Building Regulations for fire safety. CFD has shown some of our fire designs to be safer than a code compliant design.
We also use CFD to deliver value engineering by optimising the fire design; removing smoke curtains, removing lobby doors, reducing over-specified structural fire resistance and optimising the natural / mechanical smoke control system.
Achieving Building Regulations is rarely the end of a fire engineers' involvement in a project for a number of reasons. Innovation Fire Engineering can still provide invaluable expertise post building regulations approval by ensuring that the fire design is interpreted correctly to preserve fire safety and also prevent additional costs from the active and passive fire safety systems.
Our On-going Support service is vital to ensure that our fire engineering strategy also accurately reflects any variations in the design. Even a seemingly minor architectural change or mechanical and engineering consideration could have an impact on fire safety. We would therefore need to justify any modifications after building regulations approval has been gained and update the fire strategy accordingly.
Open plan living areas in flats are becoming increasingly popular and the location of a hob within the kitchen area is an important consideration in a design to ensure fire safety. Most clients prefer not to enclose the kitchen in a flat for various reasons, including aesthetics, cost and limits on space. This is where our specialist service can be invaluable.
There are recommended limits in fire safety guidance regarding the size of open plan kitchen / living areas within a flat. When the open plan area exceeds this size it is recommended that the kitchen is enclosed in fire resisting construction.
However, we can undertake CFD modelling of the open plan kitchen / living area to assess the visibility through smoke, the temperature of the smoke, toxicity and the radiation levels. We compare the results with those of a code compliant flat layout and use an innovative fire engineering approach to enable the design to meet the functional requirements of Building Regulations.
As a truly independent fire engineering consultancy we do not have any affiliation with a building control company, unlike some of our competitors. This means that you are guaranteed an unbiased review without any concern of a conflict of interest.
Our team of highly qualified and experienced Fire Engineers and CFD specialists use our expertise to assess third party fire engineering strategies or analyse any supporting CFD modelling to ensure that the design criteria and interpretations are correct.
Our third party assessment of compliance for approving authorities can support you in assessing the acceptability of a proposed fire design for any type of building. We recommend this independent review for large and complex projects, alternative solutions regarding life safety systems or where there is a difference of opinion on fire engineering issues.
Boundaries between buildings are getting tighter, due to land shortages, increasing the risk of fire spread. A fire engineering solution to limit the spread of fire to neighbouring buildings is therefore integral to a design.
An assessment of external fire spread is undertaken to quantify the radiation from the facade to the adjacent building. The fire resistance required on the external walls of a building depends on various factors such as, the use of the building, the distance to the nearest building or boundary, the level of openings in the facade and the fire strategy within the building itself. The aim is to ensure sufficient fire resistance to allow for the safe evacuation of the occupants and prevent the fire spreading to neighbouring buildings.
Our Fire Engineers can assess the specific challenges and recommend solutions. CFD modelling can be undertaken to assess radiation on the nominal boundary from a building for external fire spread. This more precise calculation typically allows a 10-15% increase in unprotected area, compared to prescriptive guidance and still ensures life safety.
Many new builds are designed with excessive, costly structural fire protection, based on Approved Document B. However, this generic fire guidance does not relate to your specific building in terms of occupancy, fire load, ventilation and interior coverings.
Our value engineered approach can help you optimise your design and reduce inefficiencies in structural fire proofing. Using our extensive skills and experience we undertake a robust CFD analysis of structural stability and thermal properties in a worst case fire scenario to ensure a safe design.
We devise appropriate structural fire protection, based on the specific risks associated with your building and ensure the same level of safety is achieved, as intended by the guidance. In addition, our fire engineering strategy can deliver cost savings by enabling the removal of excessive over designed fire protection, such as disproportionate layers of plaster board, thickness of intumescent paint and reduced column sizes.
Timber frame construction is a modern method of construction, becoming more prevalent due to cost savings, speed of installation and versatility. However, due to the combustible properties of a timber frame build and the increased risk of fire during the construction phase (and the associated impact on adjacent buildings) there can be a barrier to its' use.
Our specialist advice and guidance enables you to use timber frame construction safely, even where adjacent buildings are very close. Our highly experienced Fire Engineers can assess the site plan and the proposed compartment lines in the new building to recommend the use of different categories of timber frame in different compartments during construction. Our innovative approach maintains the maximum amount of Category A timber frame to reduce costs, whilst still mitigating the risk of external fire spread, should a fire occur during the construction period.
The external fire spread of the proposed building can also be assessed by using CFD modelling to quantify the exact radiation being received on adjacent buildings and assessing its acceptability.