Fire safety strategies
The great fire of London in 1666 resulted in a change to how buildings, and particularly houses or private dwellings, were built. The London Building Act 1667 was the first with surveyors appointed and empowered to enforce the regulations. Today, architects and engineers continually innovate with building design and construction which can bring them into conflict with fire safety regulations and legislation.
Building in fire safety
Building regulations require that there should always be an alternative escape route in the case of a fire. This can be difficult in buildings with open plan design or single staircase escape routes. A fire strategy sets out the means of escape and measures that have been put in place to prevent fire and, if one should occur, to limit its spread.
What is a fire strategy?
Fire strategies should be developed at the same time as the blueprint for the building. They are specific and tailored to each individual building. Typically they will cover:
- Evacuation routes and exits.
- Fire alarms and emergency lighting.
- Fire fighting equipment.
- Fire rating of walls, doors, floors and structure.
- External fire spread issues.
- Facilities for the fire brigade.
The fire strategy will also include details of any fire engineering that had been used, such as smoke modelling, evacuation modelling, structural fire engineering or radiation analyses. It should also include control measures to make sure on-going maintenance is put in place, and that the strategy remains effective for the life of the building.
Fire strategies and the planning process
Planning applications for new homes or conversion of existing buildings into homes in remote areas can be rejected due to fire service access requirements. Developing a fire strategy for the property that incorporates the use of domestic sprinklers can often overcome this problem.