This module explores the missed opportunities of designers. Architects and indeed clients by not adopting the approach available in BS9999 Fire Safety in the Design Management and Use of Buildingsfor their designs.

BS9999 was released in 2008 as a full British Standard 10 years after consultants were commissioned to prepare it.  Designers have been asking for a flexible approach to fire safety for years and this code offers this opportunity.  This standard which applies a risk based approach to fire safety offers an alternative approach to the prescriptive route through Approved Document B (ADB). The benefits to both the designer/architect/client in adopting this approach are very significant, however, its application is in my experience is rare.

I have delivered over 50 seminars all over the country to many building control bodies and a few architect practices and quite clearly after the seminar all those attending can see the major benefits to both them and their clients.  Why, therefore, is it not being widely used?

My feeling is the perception of BS9999 to the users.  Mention 459 pages and carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment and people think that the application of BS9999 is too complicated for many of their developments and they will stick to ADB.  You do not have to use the entire document; you use the relevant section to demonstrate that you have met the functional requirements as you would with ADB.

I receive comments on my seminars such as

“We don’t get involved in many large projects!”

 


This is not just for large projects this standard is ideal for a 2 storey office development.  You can increase the travel distance in a typical office from 45m and 18m in ADB to 55m and 22m.  If smoke detection is installed which it is invariably done anyway, you can increase the travel distance to 63.25m and 24m. Now what does this result in for the client, an increase in nett floor area, possibly reduction in the number of staircases.  Why then therefore are not ALL offices potentially designed to BS9999. Granted not all will benefit but clearly many would.

Other comments.

“It is too complicated and I will need a fire engineer to do the calculations!”

The rationale behind the development of the code was “Easy to use prescriptive guidance

– aimed at non-specialists such as architects and general engineers”.  Also, there is an online calculator which has been endorsed by LABC which can carry out all the calculations involved in applying BS9999.

BS9999 takes into account factors such as early warning, high ceilings and installation of fixed suppression all which can have an impact on available safe egress time (ASET).This can result in reductions in aggregate exit width requirements and therefore an increase in the number of people permitted on a licence.  It also results in extensions in travel distances, reductions in staircase widths, reductions in final exit widths

BS9999 also takes into account the ventilation conditions when determining the fire resistance of the elements of structure, which can result in reductions in the required fire resistance of the elements of structure.  All of these result in a more cost effective design for the client.  With this in mind are designers, architects and clients missing an opportunity by not adopting this approach?

Another issue is sustainability.  This is a hot topic at the moment and we are striving to design sustainable buildings.  If a building designed to ADB with 4 staircases could be designed to BS999 with only 2 staircases all of which require heating for the next 25 years, does this not have an impact on the sustainability of buildings.

You could argue that by missing the opportunity of adopting BS9999 results in an over designed building.

 

 

Designing a building to BS9999 can result in a reduction in the gross whilst maintaining the net and therefore resulting in a more cost effective, sustainable building. In this current economic climate should we not be designing buildings better and ensuring that the fire safety facilities incorporated do indeed reflect the risk.

I have produced an online course which gives an overview of the standard and this is being offered free on my online academy. Simply click on the videos below to view the course.

 

Module 1

This module covers the following topics:

  • Perception of the code
  • Background to the changes
  • Why change it now?

 

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Module 2

This module covers the following topics:

  • Application of the code
  • Approaches available to the designer
  • Rationale behind the code
  • ASET

 

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Module 3

This module covers the following topics:

  • The risk profile
  • Impact of the design with the fire service
  • Consultation with the fire service
  • Access for the fire service
  • Multiple risk profuiles
  • Changes for the future

 

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Module 4

This module covers the following topics:

  • Application of the code
  • Minimum package of measures
  • Travel distances
  • Variation with additional features
  • Exit widths
  • Staircase widths

 

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Module 5

This module covers the following topics:

  • Sprinklers in design
  • Reliability
  • Impact of sprinklers
  • Other fixed installations
  • Management levels
  • Fire drills

 

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Module 6

This module covers the following topics:

  • Disabled evacuation
  • Commissioning and handover
  • Fire safety manual
  • Fire resistance of elements of structure
  • Benefits of BS9999

 

 

The BS9999 Online Calculator

 

 

Online Standards Limited have produced a number of online calculators which can greatly assist all users in determining the requirements of various codes and standards.  The first to be released is the BS9999 Online Calculator, this product will change the way that standards are applied.  Click on the video link below for further information.

 

 

If you would like a free trial of this online calculator please contact us on 01832 710770 or email us at enquiries@frconline.co.uk