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Design principles of fire safety
The principal contributors were: Geoff G Connell Hon Dip Arch Roger Jowett BSc MSc Dip Arch RIBA ACIArb Phillip H Thomas PhD(Cantab) FIMechE FIFireE MIFS and 0 Leslie Turner OBE RIBA AIFireE They would like to thank their support team. Foreword written by: Dr William A Allen CBE BArch LLD RIBA HonFAIA HonFIOA.The need for a comprehensive guide for fire safety in design was identified as a recommendation by the Authors in their Report to the Department of Trade and Industry-titled Fire and Building Regulutiorz--in 1990. would find the guide a useful amplification of the principles behind legislative provisions. particularly mentioning John Blew. has led us to concentrate on principles rather than numeric detail. and Robert Biddulph. together with students and a wider audience in other disciplines. The target audience was building designers. fire safety officers and building control officers who. . Lesley Turner Dip Arch RIBA. who was Chairman of the Fire Research Advisory Committee 1975-1983. The current methods of prescribing technical levels for fire safety range from broad functional requirements to detailed technical specifications which. together with the continuing changes in detail occasioned by developments. In summer 1993 the Department of the Environment commissioned us to produce an illustrated text on the fire safety principles underlying current United Kingdom legislation. who produced the illustrations.
Chapter 7: Access and facilities for the fire service 191 191 191 192 194 194 194 195 197 . Introduction Scope The control problem History Principles of requirements Technical contents of provisions General Vehicular access to the building Firefighting shafts Location and number of firefighting shafts Construction of firefighting shafts Firefighting stairs Fire mains and landing valves Firefighting lobbies Fire mains and landing valves Smoke venting of basements Summary of design considerations Access and facilities Ventilating basements References 197 198 199 199 199 199 200 201 201 201 202 ' ' Design principles of fire safety 189 .
are based on an assumption that sufficient safety is assured without a need for fire brigade assistance.I_. so that people may be trapped or injured and may need rescue or assistance from the fire brigade. . .. that is to strike a reasonable balance between the minimum standards necessary to safeguard people in and around buildings. and it is difficult to make any distinction .. . and have sufficient other facilities available to them. and access and facilities are necessary to enable the brigade to carry out this task._ . . . There is an increasing need for fire brigades to be able to enter into buildings to fight fire. for example controls aimed at restricting external fire spread. as well as supplementing other life safety controls.. .. " " .." . This chapter identifies some of the problems associated with controls in this area. In between the above extremes are controls aimed at restricting fire growth and spread. .. . for example those dealing with means of escape in case of fire. Scope This chapter covers the subject area dealt with by Requirement B5 of Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations 1991. .. . . ..access and facilities for the fire service The control problem One control problem associated with provisions for access and facilities for the fire service is common to provisions to restrict external fire spread. . ." " . Increasing height and complexity of buildings means that often it is no longer possible to fight fire solely from the outside of the building. .. I - .. Other controls. It also sets out the basic principles behind the technical provisions aimed at ensuring that fire brigades have sufficient means of access to and where appropriate within buildings. .. -. _" __ . However.. As with controls related to external fire spread that are dealt with in Chapter 6. . and a level of provision that veers more towards the protection of property. but fire development will at some stage be restrkted by fire brigade intervention. . .. Firefighting is aimed at property protection as well as safeguarding life. It gives some of the historical background behind the relevant controls and standards. even in the latter case the unpredictability of fire can result in things not going as planned. Introduction There is at least an implicit assumption in respect of some fire safety controls that a fire will not be allowed to bum unchecked.. in order to enable them to fight the fire and effect rescue if necessary. the provision of access and facilities have distinct benefits in terms of restricting property loss. . ..
and if necessary. between life safety and property safety in respect of most of the provisions needed in buildings in this area. and providing facilities to put them out. I I . I .. A second control problem is that the application of the Building Regulations does not extend beyond the curtilage of the building. These have to be dealt with by other legislation. cannot be dealt with under the Regulations. It included measures aimed at preventing ignition of readily flammable materials.. . Consequently.. and it required communities to provide ladders for firefighting and rescue purposes. it is to be expected that some of the earliest legislation dealing with fire safety covers the linked aspects of preventing unwanted fires starting. . can have disastrous life safety consequences. and adequacy of public water supplies for firefighting purposes. .. Indeed. History As long as people have used fire it has been necessary for them to be able to deal with unwanted fire. Also. and that required water containers to be provided for firefighting purposes. A Scottish Act that was introduced in 1425. arrangements for smoke clearance after a fire are clearly more relevant to property protection than life safety.. and are able to function as intended. and particularly ones in high buildings.. i L- . If access arrangements for fire appliances. . . In particular... and these are not covered by the Building Regulations. it is not thought necessary to attempt to make any such distinction.. rescue operations. obstruction of access roads and hardstandings for fire appliances can potentially cause significant delays in the commencement of firefighting. Management of the building in use raises a third control problem. as is evidenced by numerous fires throughout the world in high-rise buildings that have resulted in significant life loss.. facilities for access for firefighting purposes provides a sound basis for rescue of any persons that may be trapped and not able to escape either by their own efforts or with the assistance of others in the building. as distinct from on the site. then it is essential that they are available when needed. and other facilities to assist the fire service in fighting fire and possibly in rescue are to be effective. was probably the earliest national Act dealing with fire... This could have life safety implications. . Adequacy of access roads to enable fire appliances to get to the site. . Early provisions in Britain can be found in some local ordinances that required fires to be covered at night. . Fires that get a hold. to provide .. However..
to fit stopcocks (fire plugs) on water supplies..water buckets. To assist fire authorities. powers similar to those in London were obtained by some of the larger cities. That code has since been revised2. In the 18th Century a number of Acts were introduced in London. The Fire Service Act 1947 returned the service to local authority control. and to provide metal hooks for pulling down burning timbers and roofs. ' . This resulted in the formation of several hundred separate fire brigades. A BS Code (SS5588 Part 5 ) dealing specifically with the subject was published in 1986. and persuasion where powers were not available.. Elsewhere in Britain in the 19th Century.. The situation regarding water supplies for firefighting purposes was dealt with in the Water Act 1945... Elsewhere in the UKcprovision relied on local legislation where it provided the necessary powers. These Acts were developed over the years. The Fire Brigades Act 1938 rationalised the position by requiring Local Authorities to '. but the responsibility was placed at County and County Borough level. Building regulations for access and facilities for the fire service were introduced in Scotland in the 1960s in the Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations'. and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act 1865 led to the establishment of a fire brigade in London. although these were amalgamated into a National Fire Service in 1941.'. guidance on access for fire appliances was issued by the Home Office. These required parishes to provide fire engines and ladders. In Inner London requirements could be applied to high and large buildings under Section 20 of the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939. and recommendations about firefighting stairways and lifts were included in British Standard CP3 Chapter IV series of codes of practice on fire precautions in buildings in the 1960s.. and to have arrangements to employ persons to fight fires. and at a national level the Lighting and Watching Act 1833 enabled fire engines and other equipment to be provided and maintained for the use of parishes. This resulted in a significant reduction in the number of separate fire authorities.make provision for the extinction of fires and the protection of life and property in case of fire.
size. . . . nor unnecessarily fatigued before they commence them.- . Facilities within the building to assist fire fighters are therefore necessary in tall buildings. and where relevant: means of access into and within the building for firefighting personnel to effect rescue. In a low rise building without a deep basement the means of escape provisions should offer sufficient means of ingress for fire fighters. properly protected and equipped with a supply of water. and firefighting. . The essence is to provide firefighting bridgeheads. at all levels other than the main level where firefighters gain entry into the building direct. and the only specific provision in such a case would be for there to be vehicular access to enable appliances to be brought near to the building in order to facilitate ladder access to upper storeys and entry into the building in the general vicinity of the vehicle access points. . if necessary. Principles of requirements Measures aimed at ensuring speedy and effective firefighting have an obvious benefit in terms of property protection. In order to assist the fire service in its tasks of firefighting and rescue there needs to be a sufficient standard of access. both to and where appropriate within the building. These are: - means of external access to enable fire appliances to be brought near to the building for effective use. and. The necessary facilities comprise: . . but there is also a life safety contribution and this is taken into account in the scale of provision of fire precautions in buildings called up under legislation. -. The main firefighting activities generally take place from within the building. .-. indeed with high buildings beyond the reach of appliances these activities can only take place from within the building. . and other facilities of a standard relative to the size and form of the building. - - Technical content of provisions General The standard of provision of access and facilities for the fire service is related to the use. and height of the building... and the intent is to ensure safe access for fire fighters and that they are neither unduly delayed in their firefighting and rescue activities. . means for venting heat and smoke from a basement fire. fire mains and associated facilities.
The second level applies to larger buildings. The first two apply. and where appropriate. In these cases the provision of firefighting shafts. where this second level is appropriate. . where there is a basement. . . have deep basements. that is those which are high. or are of the second level. . which . . . - access for fire appliance to near the building entry points. - Each of these facilities is intended to contribute to the provision of a sufficiently secure operating base to allow effective action by firefighters. afirefighting lift in high buildings. In addition.where it is not necessary to provide internal fire mains and other internal firefighting facilities. There are three different levels of provision for access of firefighting vehicles to the exterior of a building. Designers of a building. but of such a size that it might be more economical to opt to provide internal firefighting facilities in order to reduce the amount of accessible perimeter.. but which are not of such a height that a firefighting lift is needed. . In such cases a pumping appliance should be able to get within a limited distance of an exterior wall of the building. In the case of some buildings a public road may be sufficiently near to satisfy this need. afirefighting shaft that includes a stair protected from the accommodation areas by a firefighting lobby. . and ones that are higher. Vehicular access to the building I The purpose of providing access for firefighting vehicles is to limit the distance a firefighter has to carry equipment before he can commence firefighting. and the third is where these facilities are needed. . In these cases a given percentage of the building perimeter should be accessible from an access road close to the faqade. " . but it should be noted that requirements cannot be made under the Building Regulations for work to be done outside the site of the works. The first level applies only to relatively small buildings that are below a stated height. and containing a fire main. . may opt to provide internal firefighting facilities instead. The percentage of faqade is determined by the height and total floor area of the building. If the distance is too great there would be delay and reduced effectiveness. a nieans of venting heat and smoke from a basement fire may be needed. The third level embraces all other buildings.
These include minimum widths between curbs. they should be able to provide access for turntable ladders or hydraulic platforms where the building is above a stated height. and bearing capacity. may or may not need to incorporate a firefighting lift. A range of design criteria ought to be considered for access roads. and enables them to start firefighting or rescue without undue delay. . minimum turning circles. Fire appliances are of different designs and can change depending on local needs. and there should be access for a pumping appliance to within a limited distance of each fire main connecting point. Access for appliances to within a specified distance and in sight of inlet to the rising main. High building fitted with rising main. Turning facilities may be necessary depending on the length of any dead-end access route. Access roads for fire appliances should at least be able to accommodate pumping appliances. and in the case of the second level where access to a percentage of the perimeter of the building is needed. Figure 68: Access for appliances Small building Appliance within accepted distance of any point on ground storey. and then either up or down a building. clearance heights. and where access for high-reach appliances is needed then the roads should be of a size and to be positioned so that these appliances can be operated. It is therefore advisable for the designer to consult the controlling authority who would be able to provide the necessary design criteria applicable to vehicles that are used in the particular area. The percentage varies with the size of the building. A firefighting shaft provides a protected access route for firefighters into. Can be off site. The connecting point should be readily visible from the point where the appliance would be parked (Figure 68).!f . is necessary. Larger building but not high Access for appliances along a percentage of the perimeter of the building.
There is an allowance given where the building is sprinklered. The hose length criterion alone could be considered as sufficient to provide for a satisfactory numbsr of shafts. Location and number of firefighting shafts The scale of provision for firefighting shafts. - Where there is a firefighting lift it is the normal fire service practice to take the lift to the storey below the storey on fire (the storey above the fire storey in the case of a basement fire). In high buildings and ones having deep basements the firefighting shaft also includes a firefighting lift. and those storeys that need to be served by the shaft. The shaft should contain a firefighting stair. . A British ' gives guidance for the Standard Code of Practice. BS 5588: Part 5 design and construction of firefighting shafts.Stair entered at access level direct fiom outside Figure 69: Firefighting shaft. Lift needed in high buildings.Ventilation o f stair and lobby necessary.A lesser standard offire r-esistanceaccepted for construction within shaft. . and on every storey where there is access to accommodation from the stairway a firefighting lobby is interposed between the stairway and the accommodation. to be no more than a specified distance from the entrance to the lobby of the firefighting shaft. fewer shafts are needed. and (Figure 3) illustrates buildings where firefighting shafts are needed.Lobby minimum specified size hut not too large in order to avoid use for other purposes. other than that at fire service access level.Firefighting shafts Firefighting shafts need to be provided in tall buildings. based on area per shaft. Shaft protected by jire resisting coristriictiori arid doors to specified standard. relates to the area of the largest of those storeys that determine the need for firefighting shafts. Location of the shafts is governed by the necessity for every part of each storey. typical arrangement or via protected corridor: . The main landing valve in lobby. in order to avoid personnel and the lift car being directly exposed to the fire before the situation can be assessed and firefighting started. The distance is measured along the line of a route suitable for laying a hose. The firefighting lift is accessed from the firefighting lobby at each storey (Figure 69). Lift can be banked with other passenger lifts. A fire main with outlets in each lobby and with a charging point in the shaft at the level where there is access to the shaft from outside. . Access to the storey on fire is then by the firefighting stair. and in buildings with large floor areas. particularly since it is . is also necessary. buildings with deep basements.
. .. - .. As a consequence the standard of fire-resisting separation provided by the structure surrounding the shaft may in some cases be more than that of the constructional elements of the building. -. the area criterion may in some cases necessitate additional shafts. .. _"_ . The main function of the door at this stage is to keep the firefighting lobby relatively smoke free. and in the shaft enclosure. . rather than an arbitrary area limit. and during firefighting operations the door between the shaft and the accommodation would be open at least some of the time. . This is because firefighters could.. The only justification for this would seem to be that the area that could be theoretically swept by the maximum hose length from a centrally placed point. . ". Construction of separating elements within the shaft may be of a lesser standard. Construction of firefighting shafts Firefighting shafts need to have a good standard of fire separation from other parts of the building. This may seem to be an anomaly in terms of maintaining a standard of fire-resisting separation.. so the standard of fire resistance is then relatively . lift to basements only Shaft and I$ to upper storeys only Shaft and lift to all storeys based on a practical performance limit. . - . If the shafts are economically positioned to meet the hose length criterion. be operating from the shaft at an advanced stage of a fire. is greater than the maximum area specified for a single shaft under the area criterion. . are usually accepted as half that of the respective structure. . .. . . . . Figure 70: Provision and extent of firefighting stairs and lifts tall building medium height building access level shallow basement Shaft and lift to basement only Shaft to upper storeys only Shaft to all storeys. . Whether this is a critical factor from a practical point of view is debatable. but it can be defended on the grounds that in the early stages'of the fire it is unlikely that the door between the firefighting lobby and the accommodation would be directly attacked by the fire. although the separating structure might well be attacked. and indeed often would. and the fire resistance of doors within the shaft.
during firefighting. A firefighting stair may also serve as a stair for means of escape. Fire mains are installed in a building and equipped with landing valves in each firefighting lobby so that firefighters may be able to connect their hoses and obtain a supply of water for firefighting purposes. The stairway should be provided with a means of smoke venh’ng by openable vents so that it can be kept relatively smoke-free. The stair would also serve as a safe route of egress for the fire service should the firefighting lift fail or become unreliable. Thus guidance may specify a maximum limit on size as well as a minimum. but they should not be so large as to encourage any storage or unauthorised use. Firefighting lobbies A means of smoke venting by openable vents is needed so that the lobby can be kept relatively smoke-free. Firefighting stairs These need to be sufficiently wide to be easily used by firefighters carrying their equipment. It serves as a means of final approach to the floor on fire and would be used for floor to floor movement during firefighting operations. These serve as a safe area where firefighters may assemble their equipment before commitment to firefighting operations. Fire mains and landing valves .unimportant. All firefighting shafts should incorporate a fire main and associated landing valves. but it has a number of important functions. They should be of sufficient size to enable firefighters to lay out hose and connect it to a landing valve. that is they would be permanently charged with water supplied from tanks and pumps within the building. This means that in some cases they may be somewhat wider than stairs provided solely for means of escape. In some cases the mains may be ‘dry’ (dry risers/fallers). and these would be equipped with a hose connection at fire-service access level to enable firefighters to charge the main from a pumping appliance on their arrival at the incident. If a firefighting stairway serves levels both above and below ground it would be necessary to subdivide the stairway at or about ground level to prevent smoke from a basement fire affecting the stairway above ground. However the door may be the only protection for a fire fighter if he has to retreat from a fire. Those mains above firefighting access level are usually known as risers and those below that level as fallers. In high buildings the mains should be ‘wet’ (wet risers).
BS 5306 Part l 3 gives guidance on the design and construction of fire mains. or by mechanical means. rescue and firefighting more tolerable. Other than small basements. and make search. Smoke venting of basements Fires in basements can pose particular problems to firefighters. Smoke venting can be provided by natural means using smoke outlet shafts with removable or openable covers.All fire mains have a landing valve in each firefighting lobby. and the valve is positioned so that firefighters can lay out and charge a hose line before they enter the'fire compartment. (not just deep ones that are accessed by firefighting shafts) should to be provided with means of venting smoke and heat. Where mechanical extraction is used it is necessary to provide a sprinkler system in the basement storeys. all basements. to control the fire sufficiently to enable the mechanical extraction system to cope with its designed performance. reduce temperatures. The problem can be to some extent reduced by providing means whereby a basement fire may be vented. . to improve visibility. Products of combustion will tend to rise via stairways and this can make access by firefighters difficult.
and depth of any basements determines both the need and extent and in general terms the following provisions meet the objectives. . A large low or medium height building needs access for appliances around a proportion of its fagade and with access into the building. firefighting lobbies and a firefighting main. access and facilities within a building for firefighting personnel.Summary of design considerations The objective is to provide access and facilities to assist fire fighters in the protection of life. and adequate means of ventilating heat and smoke from basements. its height. which also includes their smoke venting provisions. A high building needs fire appliance access to within a limited distance to a firefighting shaft(s) within the building. such shafts comprise a firefighting stair. - - Ventilating basements - Means of venting heat and smoke from large or deep basements may be natural or mechanical. In the former case by perimeter smoke outlets providing a proportion of the floor area they serve. Access and facilities A small low building only needs fire appliance access to within a limited distance of all points of the ground storey. 0 The size of a building. All firefighting shafts should be designed and constructed to BS 5588 Part 5 . Mechanically by a protected extract system supplemented by automatic sprinklers. Firefighting lifts are needed in high buildings. and comprise: ' - external access for fire appliances.
HMSO. London. .. The Scottish Office. London. Code of practice for firefighting stairs and lifts. . Statutory Instrument 1963 No. BSI. . i References 1 . . British Standards Institution. . British Standard BS 5306: Part 1: 1976 (1988) London. . 1991. . construction and use of buildings. British Standards Institution. Hydrant systems.. . BSI. 1897. The Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations 1963.. 2. . Fire precautions in the design. 3. . . 1991. . British Standard BS 5588: Part 5: 1991. hose reels and foam inlets. Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises.
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