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FOCUS


Influencing design


As part of an Arup project, Robert Parkinson and Reece Walker explore how FDS modelling is influencing open plan apartment design


M


ODERN RESIDENTIAL apartments within cities across the UK are continuing to thrive. While space is at a premium,


the owners and occupiers of these apartments want to live in expansive and airy environments, removing the feeling of being ‘boxed in’. Open plan apartments deliver on these needs, and are the essence of modern residential design. Within the fi re safety industry, the fi re safety


research and guidance associated with open plan apartments are well documented following publications and guidance by the National House Building Council in 2009 and BS 9991: 2015. These publications rightly refer to the specific fire safety risks associated with open plan arrangements, and the need for these risks to be mitigated as part of the fire strategy design. The provision of kitchens within the open


plan area of the apartment is a design objective that often places the ‘natural’ location for the kitchen and cooking facilities in relatively close proximity to the fi nal exit door. Where the maximum sizes and dimensions of the guidance restrict the design, a fi re engineered approach is adopted to demonstrate that the functional requirements of the Building Regulations are met.


Typically this includes a form of modelling,


either three dimensional analysis or more simple calculations, depending on what is being assessed. Arup has undertaken research on thermal radiation and FDS (fire dynamics simulator) modelling of apartment fires, to understand more precisely the factors affecting a hob fire event and what design principles should be considered by fire engineers in the early stages when advising on open plan apartments. The focus of the research was primarily the effect of thermal radiation on the escaping occupants.


Means of escape


In the event of a fire within the apartment, combustion products pose a threat to the occupants by means of: • thermal radiation – which may cause pain, (fi rst, second or third) degree burns or fatality


• smoke – which may be hot, toxic and/ or reduce visibility (all of which impair the ability of the occupants to escape)


Kitchens continue to present a large proportion of residential fi re scenarios. The following fi ndings, taken from statistical data1


22 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com , are illustrative of this:


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