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FIRE SAFETY & DISASTER RECOVERY


“One in three architects were


unable to correctly define the concept of active fire protection.”


A SYSTEM LED-APPROACH


Ian King, Chief Commercial Officer at Zeroignition, looks at the benefits of modern methods of construction and how the solutions offered by adopting an off-site approach can be applied to fire protection and safety.


Recently, the National Housing Federation found that more than 8 million people in England – or one in seven people – are living in an unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable home.


This is increasing pressure on contractors to deliver bigger, quicker and cheaper builds, which can result in mistakes that can sometimes cost lives. The construction industry shoulders much responsibility so the importance of making fundamental changes to methods of working is immeasurable.


The benefits of modular construction Of the 200,000 homes built each year in the UK, around 15,000 are modular. With fewer lorry deliveries to the building site, modular constructions have a lower carbon footprint and nearby residents are exposed to less noise and visual pollution. Off-site construction requires fewer builders too, and the whole process can be completed in roughly half the time of a traditional build.


Furthermore, modular construction allows for the standardising of housing design, making production more efficient. There is an important lesson to be learned here in how off-site manufacturers use monitored and checked components to ensure products meet performance specifications.


By introducing quality checks and tests during component assembly in the factory setting, it’s easy to develop and implement industry-standard certifications.


When taken to the construction site for installation, the workforce will be fully qualified to execute the build, having up-to-date knowledge of the products and the


40 | TOMORROW’S FM


building as a ‘system’. This approach can be adopted for fire protection design.


The system-led approach to fire protection A system-led fire protection design method involves checking that the specified components work both individually and holistically. System components will generally include:


Active fire protection – measures triggering a response, such as sprinkler systems and smoke alarms


Passive fire protection – measures to slow down or contain fire, such as fire doors and fire-retardant materials


A system-led approach can combine compartmentation – for example, with fire doors, sprinkler systems and FR- rated OSB board – followed by assessing each component for its individual performance, as well as how it works in combination with other components.


It’s clear, however, that enforcing a system-led approach to fire protection design can only take place if there’s a drastic improvement in key knowledge across the industry.


Fire protection awareness must improve We recently announced a raft of alarming findings from a study of fire protection awareness among architects and specifiers (see table below). The basic fire protection terms mentioned earlier, ‘active fire protection’ and ‘passive fire protection’ are linked with the standard terms


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