Fire Safety Engineering

Introduction

Fire safety engineers compose fire science and technology to protect human life and property in case of fire. It involves fire safety design, fire safety engineering and fire safety management. Over the past several centuries, fire safety engineering has been evolved significantly. As the early application of prevent conflagration to the latest application of fire limitation to its object or room of origin. The evolutions of fire safety engineer seem to be matured until the later part of 20th century.

Therefore, as a fire safety engineering, significant ethical thinking such as cost and safety, validation of model must be consider.

Definition

What is "Fire Safety Engineering"?
According to the definition by the Institution of Fire Engineers of UK "The application of scientific and engineering principles, rules (Codes), and expert judgment, based on an understanding of phenomena and effects of fire and of the reaction and behaviour of people to fire, to protect people, property and the environment from the destructive effects of fire."

From the Society of Fire Protection Engineer of US, it definite as "Fire protection engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people and their environment from destructive fire and includes: analysis of fire hazards; mitigation of fire damage by proper design, construction, arrangement, and use of buildings, materials, structures, industrial processes, and transportation systems; the design, installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression and communication systems; and post/fire investigation and analysis."

The major objective of fire safety engineering is application of science and engineering principles to protect human life and property from destructive fire, which including following significant activities:

  • Fire hazards analysis
  • mitigation of fire damage by proper design, construction, arrangement, and use of buildings
  • materials, structures, industrial processes, and transportation systems
  • the design, installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression and communication systems, and
  • post/fire investigation and analysis.
  • is familiar with the nature and characteristics of fire and the associated products of combustion
  • understands how fires originate, spread within and outside of buildings/structures, and can be detected, controlled, and/or extinguished, and
  • is able to anticipate the behavior of materials, structures, machines, apparatus, and processes as related to the protection of life and property from fire.

Role of fire safety engineering

According to the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, a fire safety engineer applies science and engineering principles to protect people, homes, workplaces, businesses and environment from the destructive fires. Fire engineers analyze how buildings are used, how fires start and grow, and how fires and smoke affects people and human behaviour.

For the latest fire protection technologies, fire safety engineers can design fire control system, detection and communication system and provide means of escape plan by evaluate different fire scenarios within the building. Moreover, fire safety research on fire rated products and construction materials are common conducted nowadays, which encourage engineers to investigate fire to discover fire behaviour such as fire spreads, smoke spreads, protective measures and those critical resistance requirement.

They work with architects and other engineers, state and local building officials and local fire departments to build and maintain fire safe communities. They make recommendations for cost effective fire protection solutions to ensure that the structure, and the property and occupants contained within are adequately protected.

Prescriptive codes

For general fire engineering design, engineers will review a proposal design for regulatory compliance or local code, such as Code of Practice, Building Regulations A & B and NFPA Life Safety Code, which are called prescriptive codes. Prescriptive code provide a guidance on effective fire safety management strategies with a complete solution in terms of safety plans, system processes and management tools, in order to establish a solid foundation to support engineering designs.

Alternative approach

Fire Safety Engineering offers an alternative approach to achieving fire safe design solutions when compared to prescriptive codes and regulatory controls. The performance based methodologies associated with fire engineering provide opportunities for a risk based evaluation to achieve greater levels of safety whilst allowing the designer and architect more scope in achieving their aspirations for modern designs. In most cases the costs of providing acceptable levels of fire safety are lessened when following a fire engineered design solution.

According to Approved Document B "Fire Safety" in the Building Regulations 2000, it said "Fire safety engineering can provide an alternative approach to fire safety. It may be the only practical way to achieve a satisfactory standard of fire safety in some large and complex buildings, and in buildings containing different uses, e.g. airport terminals"

Fire protection engineers exemplify the concept of "whole building design." Fire protection engineers design systems that, taken individually, could be considered mechanical (fire sprinklers, fire-fighter's standpipes, smoke control), electrical (fire alarm), architectural (means of egress design), or structural (fire resistance design).

When designed by fire protection engineers, these systems are coordinated into a comprehensive, fire and life safety strategy.

It is beneficial to involve fire protection engineers in a design at the earliest stages of planning, generally at the feasibility or concept design stage. The benefits of involving a fire protection engineer at this stage include:

  • Greater design flexibility
  • Innovation in design, construction, and materials
  • Equal or better fire safety
  • Maximization of cost/benefit

Conversely, if a fire protection engineer is not brought in to a project team until after problems are identified, delays can result as the fire protection engineer analyzes the problem and develops solutions. At this stage there may be reduced design flexibility available and resistance to change by team members from other disciplines, if portions of the project design have been completed and decisions approved. This is particularly true in cases where fire protection problems are not identified until plans are submitted for regulatory approval.

Additionally, fire protection engineers can ensure that security related provisions designed into a building do not diminish fire safety to occupants. For example, ensure that access control to a building does not also make it more difficult to quickly exit a building in the event of a fire or similar emergency.

Aspects 1 - Safety versus Cost

Fire safety designs conform to the international and national standards, based on experience and knowledge of the respective collaborators, are provided. If necessary an alternative design with an equivalent safety level will be elaborated and presented to the authorities concerned (fire brigade, ministry, etc.).
The proposed fire safety systems can be completely integrated in the other aspects of the building design. Therefore consultation with the architects, engineers, client and authorities is necessary.

Fire Safety Engineering techniques can eventually solve existing conflicts with regard to the standards and cost-cutting solutions with fire safety level conform to the existing regulations and standards can be offered. Since projects become more complex, strongly automated fire safety systems to be incorporated in the control systems of the building frequently impose themselves.
The use of balanced and well-considered systems allows reducing the cost price of fire safety and often gives the architect and/or developer more freedom as to the structure.
The aim of Fire Safety Engineering is providing an efficient, effective and equivalent fire safety level with a minimum of obstructions.

According to Approved Document B "Fire Safety" in the Building Regulations 2000, it said "Fire safety engineering can provide an alternative approach to fire safety. It may be the only practical way to achieve a satisfactory standard of fire safety in some large and complex buildings, and in buildings containing different uses, e.g. airport terminals"

Aspects 2 - Validation of modelling

Relationship to Building Systems and Relevant Codes and Standards

Fire protection engineers generally design the following types of systems:

  • Fire sprinklers
  • Standpipes
  • Fire detection and alarm
  • Special hazards systems, such as clean agents, water mist, or CO
  • Smoke management

Additionally, fire protection engineers frequently collaborate with other design professionals in the design of the following systems:

  • Structural fire resistance
  • Fire rated construction
  • Means of egress

Conclusion

Fire safety designs conform to the international and national standards, based on experience and knowledge of the respective collaborators, are provided. If necessary an alternative design with an equivalent safety level will be elaborated and presented to the authorities concerned (fire brigade, ministry, etc.).
The proposed fire safety systems can be completely integrated in the other aspects of the building design. Therefore consultation with the architects, engineers, client and authorities is necessary.

Fire Safety Engineering techniques can eventually solve existing conflicts with regard to the standards and cost-cutting solutions with fire safety level conform to the existing regulations and standards can be offered. Since projects become more complex, strongly automated fire safety systems to be incorporated in the control systems of the building frequently impose themselves.
The use of balanced and well-considered systems allows reducing the cost price of fire safety and often gives the architect and/or developer more freedom as to the structure.
The aim of Fire Safety Engineering is providing an efficient, effective and equivalent fire safety level with a minimum of obstructions.

Fire Safety ManagementOnly if the necessary measures for the management of the fire safety provisions have been taken, one can guarantee that persons present in a building on fire can reach a safe place. The most common fire safety provisions can be compromised by lack of management.
One of the most frequent causes of victims in the event of fire is that the persons present do not take the accurate actions when the fire is discovered or when the alarm is given.
Only a correct management, in combination with a good training of the personnel responsible, can guarantee that the correct actions are taken and that the persons present can evacuate safely. When speaking of management we think about the legal exigencies regarding the maintenance of the means of evacuation, the fire safety systems, the fire extinguishers, the signalisation, etc.
It is necessary to have accurate instructions for works with open flame, reaction to alarm in the presence and the absence of the personnel and/or visitors.
Therefore it is best to leave the compilation of a clear and efficient file regarding "Fire Safety Management" to experienced persons.

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