Fire Safety And Architecture
When it comes to purpose and design, nothing is more important in architecture than maintaining the safety of the building and the people within. Fire risks are some of the most dangerous and costly, and thus fire protection must be at the forefront of your mind during your next project. How do you ensure that you’re not leaving your building open to risk?
Building Regulations and what they leave out
All efforts to ensure the fire safety of a project must begin with the Building Regulations. Rather than telling you what must be done to fulfil them, they act as a checklist of fire safety standards that your building must meet. For instance, multi-storey buildings with steel frames must have fire protection and materials like intumescent coatings can help you ensure that.
Means of escape
One of the primary concerns of an architect throughout a project must be in providing means for escape if a fire breaks out. Pay attention to this when designing spaces as it can dictate how large a space can be without a fire exit, the width of escape stairs and routes, the requirement for Automatic Fire Detection Systems and much more.
Fighting fire spread
Besides the regular inclusions and regulations you have to follow, an architect must also consider the scale of a project and what features can impact their fire safety. For instance, multi-storey buildings often have riser shafts that allow easy access for mechanical and electrical services. These shafts can be a serious fire hazard, allowing fires to move between storeys and spaces with ease. For these kinds of spaces, fire riser doors are essential in stopping the spread of fires for hours, closing off and protecting those areas entirely.
Think of the scope of your project and, in particular, how to protect any accessways or shafts that can allows fires to progress through them more quickly. The size and scale of a building also dictates how long it must be able to maintain its integrity in the event of a fire, so you need to refer to the Building Regulations once more.
Don’t be afraid to call fire protection experts
The larger or more specific a project is, the more likely it is to have certain provisions within the Building Regulations specifically for it, or to have some fire risk that the average architect might not normally consider. An architect with a solid grounding in the performance aspects of fire protection equipment should be able to handle most smaller projects, but specialists should be involved in larger buildings that are more complex or ambitious. The earlier in a project’s lifecycle you involve fire protection consultants, the more options you have to ensure that their advice is cost-effective.
It’s becoming easier to find the resources you need to ensure that you have every need of a building secured when it comes to fire safety. Don’t neglect to involve specialists in the project, especially larger scale ones where fires can cause even more damage if allowed the opportunity.