The public’s health and safety are paramount when designing a building and this means architects need to understand fire protection for properties. Regardless of whether the building is one that already exists or it’s a new building that’s being designed, fire safety is required with any updates or new construction projects for architects. The UK presented new guidance documents in 2008 that was designed to address a whole range of fire issues related to the construction of buildings. These document the key areas that are affected in the design of a building and they put a particular emphasis on architectural benefits.
It’s important that architects consider a new property project from all its angles and that includes the occupants that will be in the building and for first responders that will come in the case of an emergency. It’s not just the design but also the materials that are used in the construction that can help establish a good layout and flow that makes rescue easier and this is why a good architect needs to be able to do more than just figure out how the walls and ceiling and roof will go.
Designing With Safety in Mind
It’s crucial for safety to be put into the design by the architects. It is the architect that first thinks about their obligation and they are the ones that design a building so that it complies with building codes, and property rules the state and county have. It’s best when the architect is capable of thinking proactively.
When they can design fire escapes and the layout of the building so that it addresses critical safety issues, then it’s good design. This requires the architect to look beyond building codes and improve the building’s safety beyond that scope.
There are three critical design aspects an architect needs to consider to ensure the building is reasonably safe
An experienced architect understands the need to work directly with the rescue and fire crews and develop a property that is not a fire hazard. Additionally, it needs to be well made so that the first responder can easily gain access. Here are some ideas to assist with that:
Firstly, the architect should consider the materials being used in the construction of the building. Different materials respond differently to fires and they can be used to make it a better situation for the first responders. Some material is not ignitable and it won’t combust and can be used as stabilisers. Some of the internal finishes might be a source of fuel for the fire but other materials can be used with that to reduce the fire risk with materials like plastics, textiles, and furniture which are susceptible to fire. These properties are not only influenced by their own material but also the material behind it.
Most Architects want to avoid combustible materials as much as possible. Regardless of whether it’s a commercial or residential property, it’s best when as little combustible materials are used as possible. Even though they can’t be totally avoided they can be used in combination with other material that can reduce issues related to the fire.
Flow and Layout
The second consideration is the flow and layout of the property. This can actually dictate how emergency crews are able to combat the fires and how they can rescue those trapped inside. When the architect works closely with the fire experts and the teams of first responders they can understand how to best achieve this.
Some of the important aspects in this design include how to create staircases and other landings that allow for access in emergencies and while those staircases might be more suitable than elevators in a fire rescue type of situation. When an architect can, it’s best for them to have the building design reviewed by fire experts. Then they should take some of the suggestions from the emergency crews to help improve the building’s overall safety.
The third consideration is the escape routes for both residential and commercial buildings. Most building codes require all buildings to have an exit route in the case of an emergency but a poorly-planned one impedes fire crews. The building codes themselves require that these routes are expertly planned and they need to be easy to navigate for the first responders.
All architects will create designs that meet the minimum requirements for building codes but the best ones work together with fire safety engineers to create safer buildings. They also create better escape routes for all types of buildings.