British Standard BS 9999 – Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design Management and Use of Buildings

2015 Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ Adopted !

2015-04-20:  After a lengthy, constructive and very interesting discussion which resulted in some important text revisions … on Friday afternoon in Dublin, 10 April 2015, at the ‘Fire Safety for All’ Conference (www.fire-safety-for-all.eu) … all participants voted to adopt, support and promote the 2015 Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings !

With regard to International Distribution and Promotion of the Declaration … many readers of this Technical Blog belong to varied professional, social and business networks.  I would earnestly ask you to circulate the Declaration widely within those networks, and to actively seek the support of as many organizations and individuals as possible.  This support should be confirmed by means of a simple e-mail message to: fireox@sustainable-design.ie … and I will then add the names of supporters to the Fire Safety for All WebSite (www.fire-safety-for-all.eu).  Copies of the Declaration, in PDF and WORD Formats, can also be downloaded from the WebSite.

Fire-Safety-4-All_smlThis Benchmark Declaration on Accessibility and Fire Safety for People with Activity Limitations … is an essential reference document for all stakeholders and interested parties.  It draws a long-awaited, broad, distinct and stable line in the shifting sands of a rapidly evolving Sustainable Human Environment (social, built, virtual, economic, and institutional) ….

1.   As of 14 July 2015 … 156 Countries, plus the European Union, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Since the Convention became an international legal instrument in 2008, however, the UN CRPD Preamble’s Paragraph (g): ‘mainstreaming disability in sustainable development strategies’ … and Paragraph (v): ‘the importance of accessibility in enabling people to fully enjoy their rights and fundamental freedoms’ … have tended to receive insufficient public attention and scrutiny.  The Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings and the related CIB W14 Research Working Group 5’s Reflection Document have been drafted with those two paragraphs very much in mind.

2.   Although a situation of serious risk for vulnerable building users … it is not appropriate to deal with Fire Safety for All in Buildings under Article 11: ‘Situations of Risk & Humanitarian Emergencies’ of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities … where situations of grave risk are handled, e.g. Extreme Man-Made Events, Hybrid Disasters, Severe Natural Events, Complex Humanitarian Emergencies … all amid Accelerating Climate Change & Variability.

Take the case of an earthquake, for example … where there will be large-scale serious building damage and many, many building collapses throughout an affected region.  On the other hand, when considering fire safety for all in any building … it is necessary that the building shall remain not just structurally stable, but serviceable.

3.   It is more appropriate, particularly since the publication of International Standard ISO 21542 (2011) with its expanded definition of Building Accessibility, that Fire Safety for All be incorporated into the meaning and implementation of Article 9: ‘Accessibility’ of the CRPD … in exactly the same manner that fire safety is fully integrated into everyday mainstream building use, and mainstream building fire safety codes and standards.

As there are no references, at all, to either ‘fire’ or ‘safety’ in Articles 9 … there is much to be explained and clarified in the 2015 Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings, if ‘real’ implementation is to be both practical and successful.

An improved and updated definition of Building Accessibility is contained in Principle 3 of the Dublin Declaration …

‘Accessibility of a Building encompasses the complete cycle of independent use, in a dignified manner and on an equal basis with others … and includes the approach, entry and use of a building and its facilities, egress during normal conditions and removal from its vicinity … and, most importantly, safe evacuation during a fire incident to a place of safety which is remote from the building and reached by way of an accessible route.’

4.   The Dublin Declaration contains a Preamble, Principles 1-9 which are headlined below, and an Appendix with many Terms and Definitions …

Principle 1 – A Human Right
Principle 2 – Successful Implementation
Principle 3 – Building Accessibility
Principle 4 – Design for Safe Evacuation
Principle 5 – Accessible EICT’s
Principle 6 – Fire Safety Skills
Principle 7 – Reasonable Spatial Provision
Principle 8 – Building Management
Principle 9 – Firefighters

5.   Existing approaches to Fire Safety, Protection & Evacuation in Buildings for People with Activity Limitations … as described and illustrated in the notable examples of British Standard B.S. 9999 (2008), Singapore’s FSR 7 (2011), and Hong Kong’s Fire Safety Code Addendum (2014) … are technically inadequate, tokenistic, discriminatory, create barriers to social participation, and violate human rights.  Therefore, any further use or recourse to such existing approaches must be terminated immediately !

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2015  DUBLIN  DECLARATION  ON  ‘FIRE SAFETY FOR ALL’  IN  BUILDINGS
A Call to Action and Successful Implementation !

(Adopted in Dublin, 2015-04-10)

Meeting In  Dublin, Ireland … on Thursday and Friday, 9 and 10 April, 2015

In Co-Operation With  the International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction (CIB), Rehabilitation International’s International Commission on Technology & Accessibility (RI-ICTA), the Global Alliance for Accessible Technologies & EnvironmentS (GAATES), and the EUropean Concept for Accessibility Network (EuCAN) ;

Recognizing  the integral and interdependent nature of the natural and human environments (social, built, virtual, economic and institutional) on this small planet Earth, our common home … and the need for harmonized principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the World in the enhancement of a human environment which cherishes the dignity, worth and many abilities of every person ;

Whereas  in the United Nations Charter, the U.N. Member States pledged their respect for, and the protection and observance of, fundamental human and social rights … and have determined to promote social development and better standards of living for all ;

Recalling  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted on 10th December 1948 … which established a global framework of human and social rights – basic needs and protections – and fundamental freedoms for every person and communal gathering ;

Recalling Also  the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing, adopted on 11th December 2004 … which stressed the importance of the social aspects in Sustainable Human & Social Development ;

Mindful Especially  of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted on 13th December 2006 … the principal aim of which is to ensure that the human environment is sufficiently accessible to permit a vulnerable and major population group in all communities to safely exercise and enjoy the human and social rights and fundamental freedoms described in the 1948 UDHR ;

Working Towards  the achievement of justice, equality of opportunity, social inclusion, active participation and development for every person with an activity limitation in all communities … and recognizing that accessibility of the human environment is an essential prerequisite for the above, and that fire safety for all is a critical life safety component of that accessibility ;

Aware Always  of the universal reality that there is still a strong social stigma associated with disability and, particularly, mental ill-health … that much of the human environment is not accessible for all, and even where it is robustly mandated in law, the quality of that accessibility is poor … and that fire safety guidelines for people with activity limitations in buildings, if they exist, are inadequate and/or tokenistic, and rarely implemented ;

Welcoming the launch of the CIB Working Commission 14: Fire Safety – Research Working Group 5’s Reflection Document: Buildings & ‘Fire Incident Human Behaviour and Abilities’ which presents a practical examination and general overview of fire safety for all

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Addressed to every Country and the European Union – those many Voluntary Parties to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – and the Politicians, Authorities Having Jurisdiction, State Agencies, Professional Bodies & Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations, Charitable & Private Organizations, etc., based within those separate jurisdictions:

We Declare That The Following Principles Must …

Be carefully studied, successfully implemented, and independently monitored … supported by Benchmarking, reliable Data and Statistics, and the informed use of pertinent Accessibility & Fire Safety Related Performance Indicators …

Principle 1 – A Human Right

Full and effective accessibility of the Human Environment (social, built, virtual, economic and institutional) is a fundamental human and social right, i.e. a basic need, for people with activity limitations – it is an essential prerequisite for the safe exercise and enjoyment of those rights, protections and freedoms set down in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international rights instruments … and crucially, for their health, participation, inclusion and development in all communities.

Principle 2 – Successful Implementation

Successful accessibility implementation … meaning high quality accessibility performance in the built environment … is reliant upon:

  • A robust legal base mandating accessibility for all and fire safety for all ;
  • Determined political will ;
  • Sufficient public financial resources ;
  • A compassionate and understanding bureaucracy at all levels ;
  • Competent … meaning duly educated, trained and experienced in accessibility and fire safety design … spatial planners, architects, structural engineers, fire engineers, quantity surveyors, technical controllers, industrial designers, building managers, and people at all levels in construction organizations ;
  • Independent monitoring of accessibility and fire safety performance ;
  • Innovative, well-designed accessibility and fire safety related products and systems which can be shown to be ‘fit for their intended use’.

Principle 3 – Building Accessibility

Accessibility of a Building encompasses the complete cycle of independent use, in a dignified manner and on an equal basis with others … and includes the approach, entry and use of a building and its facilities, egress during normal conditions and removal from its vicinity … and, most importantly, safe evacuation during a fire incident to a place of safety which is remote from the building and reached by way of an accessible route.

Principle 4 – Design for Safe Evacuation

Accessibility design criteria must be infused into all of the practical, day-to-day work of building designers and, especially, in the development of project-specific fire engineering design objectives … and be applied from the initial stages of building design, through to the construction and reliable life cycle operation of vertical and horizontal fire evacuation routes facilitating contraflow, areas of rescue assistance, fire safety related signage, controls and fittings, fire prevention and protection measures, fire safety management procedures, routes to and locations of places of safety, etc., etc.
• Evacuation way finding in buildings must be intuitive and obvious ;
• 3 Keywords for building designers must be: reality – reliability – redundancy.

Principle 5 – Accessible EICT’s

Electronic, information and communication technologies are ubiquitous in today’s complex built and virtual environments.  During a real fire incident in a building, they serve a function which is critical for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage and harm, and sustainability. For that reason, they must have a control and/or user interface which is accessible for all.

Principle 6 – Fire Safety Skills

People with activity limitations who occupy or use a building frequently must be included in all practice fire evacuations, in order to learn the skill of safe independent evacuation to an accessible place of safety remote from the building.  During a real fire incident, evacuation assistance provided by other building users or rescue by firefighters, and the time spent waiting for that assistance or rescue in the building must be kept to an absolute minimum.

People with activity limitations must be actively encouraged to participate in fire safety preparatory planning and regular practices … and, without exception, must be consulted and included in all activities concerning their own evacuation from a building.

Management systems and fire protection measures in buildings are never 100% reliable.  People with activity limitations must, therefore, be actively encouraged to be self-aware in situations of risk, and facilitated in learning the skill of self-protection.

Principle 7 – Reasonable Spatial Provision

Reasonable spatial provision must be allocated in a building for the needs of real users, who vary in the range of their individual behaviour and abilities … and for the real building user population profile which, avoiding discrimination, must reflect a society as a whole.  Concerning fire safety for all and the necessary size, for example, of an area of rescue assistance which adjoins a fire evacuation staircase on every floor in a building … the following indicators, exclusive of extra provision for assistants, must guide the architect and fire engineer in the collaborative design process:

(a)  Minimum reasonable provision for people with disabilities in a building – 10% of design occupant/user population ;

(b)  Minimum reasonable provision for people with activity limitations in a building … 15% of design occupant/user population.

Principle 8 – Building Management

Building managers must ensure that fire safety for all preparatory planning is effective, and that practices are held regularly … before any real fire incident occurs.  And as part of their normal, day-to-day functioning … managers must be fully aware that, without due attention to accessibility-related services, product maintenance and occupant/user welfare policies, the quality of accessibility in a building will rapidly deteriorate.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS) must not be used to limit or restrict access to any part of a building and its facilities.

Principle 9 – Firefighters

Firefighters must be trained to interact with and rescue people with activity limitations from buildings, using procedures and equipment which will not cause injury to either.  Fire services must ensure that they operate such procedures and possess such regularly serviced equipment.

Emergency service organizations must operate reliable systems to notify the fire services of emergency situations, which are accessible for all and useable by the public at all times.

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APPENDIX – Terms & Definitions

Area of Rescue Assistance:  A sufficiently large building space directly adjoining, and visible from, a main vertical evacuation route – robustly and reliably protected from heat, smoke and flame during and after a fire – where people may temporarily wait with confidence for further information, instructions, and evacuation assistance or rescue, without obstructing or interfering with the evacuation travel of other building users.

Contraflow Circulation in a Fire Building:  Emergency access by firefighters or rescue teams into a building and towards a real fire … while building users are still moving away from the fire and evacuating the building.

Evacuation from a Fire Building:  To withdraw, or cause to withdraw, all users from a building which is on fire … in pre-planned and orderly phased movements to an accessible place of safety remote from the building.

Fire Compartmentation:  The division of a building into fire-tight compartments by fire, smoke and heat resisting elements of construction, in order to …
a)  contain an outbreak of fire, including any smoke and heat generated by the fire ;
b)  prevent damage, within the building, to other adjoining compartments and spaces ;
c)  protect a compartment interior from external fire attack, e.g. fire spread across the building’s facade or from an adjacent building ;
d)  minimize adverse, or harmful, environmental impacts outside the building.

Human Health:  A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

People with Activity Limitations (E) / Personnes à Performances Réduites (F):  Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, basic human activities or tasks – because of a health condition or physical / mental / cognitive / psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.

The above Term includes …

  • wheelchair users ;
  • people who experience difficulty in walking, with or without a facilitation aid, e.g. stick, crutch, calliper or walking frame ;
  • frail, older people ;
  • the very young (people under the age of 5 years) ;
  • people who suffer from arthritis, asthma, or a heart condition ;
  • the visually and/or hearing impaired ;
  • people who have a cognitive impairment disorder, including dementia, amnesia, brain injury, or delirium ;
  • women in the later stages of pregnancy ;
  • people impaired following the use of alcohol, other ‘social’ drugs e.g. cocaine and heroin, and some medicines ;
  • people who suffer any partial or complete loss of language related abilities, i.e. aphasia ;
  • people impaired following exposure to environmental pollution and/or other irresponsible human activities, e.g. war and terrorism ;

and …

  • people who experience a panic attack in a real fire situation or other emergency ;
  • people, including firefighters, who suffer incapacitation as a result of exposure, during a real fire, to smoke and poisonous or toxic substances, and/or elevated temperatures.

Place of Safety:
•  Any accessible location beyond a perimeter which is [100] metres from the fire building or a distance of [10] times the height of such building, whichever is the greater ;   and
•  Where necessary triage can safely be rendered … and from where effective medical care and supervision can be organized and provided within one hour of injury (the ‘golden hour’) ;   and
•  Where people can be identified.

Note: If there is a risk of an explosion associated with a fire – multiply the numbers in square brackets above by 4.

Progressive Damage in Fire / Fire-Induced Progressive Damage:  The sequential growth and intensification of structural deformation and displacement, beyond fire engineering design parameters, and the eventual failure of elements of construction in a building – during a fire and the ‘cooling phase’ afterwards – which, if unchecked, will result in disproportionate damage, and may lead to total building collapse.

Note: Fire-induced progressive damage may commence long before there is any breach in the integrity of a fire compartment’s boundaries.

Real Fire:  A fire which develops in a building and is influenced by such factors as the type of building and its occupancy (numbers, abilities and activities) ;  the combustible content (fire load) ;  the ventilation, geometry and thermal properties of the fire compartment or building space (should no fire compartmentation exist) ;  the fire suppression systems in the building, and the actions of firefighters.

Skill:  The ability of a person – resulting from proper training and regular practice – to carry out complex, well-organized patterns of behaviour efficiently and adaptively, in order to achieve some end or goal.

Social Environment:  The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.

Social Rights:  Rights to which an individual person is legally entitled, e.g. the right to free elementary education (Art.26(1), UDHR), but which are only exercised in a social context with other people, and with the active support of a competent legal authority, e.g. a Nation State.

Social Wellbeing:  A general condition – in a community, society or culture – of health, happiness, creativity, responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.

Virtual Environment:  A designed environment, electronically generated from within the built environment, which may have the appearance, form, functionality and impact – to the person perceiving and actually experiencing it – of a real, imagined and/or utopian world.

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FireOx ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix – Revised & Updated

2014-10-17:  Within the professional discipline of Fire Engineering … either a building is ‘fire safe’, or it is not.  The Design Philosophy of the Fire Engineer is irrelevant.  In fact, nearly everybody involved with fire safety in buildings would collapse in a fit of laughter at the delusional notion that a design philosophy was relevant.  People’s lives are at stake !

Similarly, now, we must begin to think and act in the simple terms of a building either being ‘accessible’, or not.  At stake, this time, is the quality of life and living for very many vulnerable people in all of our societies.

Accessibility for All, according to International Standard ISO 21542 (2011) … includes the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.

Concerning that All above … FireOx International’s ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix shows who exactly we are talking about … and who must be considered in the development of a Fire Safety Strategy for every building … not just some buildings !

This is not just good design practice … it is also mandated in International Human Rights Law.

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Colour image showing FireOx International's 'Fire Safety for All' Matrix.  Revised and Updated in October 2014.  FireOx International is the Fire Engineering Division of Sustainable Design International Ltd. (Ireland, Italy & Turkey).  For a clearer and sharper print, download the PDF File below.  Matrix developed by CJ Walsh.  Latest revision suggested by Jo Kwan (Hong Kong).

Colour image showing FireOx International’s ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix.  Revised and Updated on 24 October 2014.  FireOx International is the Fire Engineering Division of Sustainable Design International Ltd. (Ireland, Italy & Turkey).  For a clearer and sharper print, download the PDF File below.  Matrix developed by CJ Walsh.  Latest revision suggested by Jo Kwan (Hong Kong).

FireOx International’s ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix (2014) – PDF File, 25 Kb

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Building Fire Safety Codes and Standards exist in almost every country.  However – IF they exist at all – those guidelines relating to the Fire Safety of People with Activity Limitations are technically inadequate, entirely tokenistic and/or blatantly discriminatory.

Refer to my previous post … BS 9999:2008 & BS 8300:2009 – Sleepwalking into Problems ?

It is time to Reboot this ridiculous, professionally negligent and obsolete old system … Reload with innovative and practical building design, construction, management and personal self-protection solutions … and Implement !

Fire Safety for All !

2015 ‘Fire Safety for All’ Global CSR Event – Dublin, 9 & 10 April

Register Now !

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2012 Review of Part B & TGD B – Irish Building Regulations

2012-03-02:  Please bear with me while I update you at the start of this post … rather than at the end, which would be more usual here … and logical.

[ In Ireland … a related problem, which continues to fester and cause a great nuisance in an everyday work environment … concerns the lack of proper, i.e. formal, recognition of electronic communications, and information in an electronic format, by public and private organizations … in spite of the following very clear legal text …

2000 Electronic Commerce Act (No. 27 of 2000)

Section 9 – Electronic Form not to Affect Legal Validity or Enforceability

Information (including information incorporated by reference) shall not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely on the grounds that it is wholly or partly in electronic form, whether as an electronic communication or otherwise. ]

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Yesterday afternoon (1 March 2012), we received the following e-mail communication from the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government (DECLG)

Folks,

Could you please send me your submissions in either Microsoft Word or Excel as it it easier to copy and paste into the format that is required , it is proving rather difficult to copy from a PDF document.

Thank You

Claire Darragh, Architecture / Building Standards, DECLG.

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I immediately replied …

Dear Claire,

Further to your informal e-mail message, which we received just a short while ago …

Please note that this is not an acknowledgement that the FireOx International Submission was received by the Department … and we certainly do not wish that you copy and paste anything relating to its contents anywhere else.

IF this is a Proper Public Consultation Process … you must adapt internal DECLG systems to suit the Submissions !   We will be communicating with the Minister’s Office concerning this issue.

Once again, I would ask you to properly acknowledge receipt of our Submission, dated 2012-02-14.

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In connection with the original FireOx International Submission … I would also like to take this opportunity to advise you that:

  • Due to an error in ISO (International Standards Organization) … the publication of ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment’, on 12 December 2011, was not notified to people directly involved in its development and drafting, or to the participating national standards organizations ; 

and

  • In order to avoid the wide confusion which the term ‘Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse’ is continuing to cause at international level … the preferred term is now Fire-Induced Progressive Damage.

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I have amended our Submission accordingly.

Kind regards.

C. J. Walsh, FireOx International – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.

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2012-02-18:  The following is the text of  FireOx International’s Submission, dated 14 February 2012, to the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government (DECLG) in Dublin … concerning the current review of the Irish Building Regulations Part B & TGD B … including, for good measure, some initial and very pertinent comments on the Irish Building Control Regulations.

None of these comments will come as any surprise to regular visitors here.

It should also be noted that the same comments are just as relevant in the case of the British (England & Wales) Building Regulations, Part B and Approved Document (AD) B !

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Ms. Claire Darragh, Architecture & Building Standards Section, DECLG.

Dear Claire,

Thank you for this opportunity to advise the Department on some urgent and necessary improvements to Part B: ‘Fire Safety’ of the 2nd Schedule to the Building Regulations in Ireland … and its supporting Technical Guidance Document (TGD) B.

1.  Some Initial Comments

  • The continuing debacle of the Priory Hall Apartment Complex, in Donaghmede Dublin 13, is just the tip of a very large iceberg in Ireland.  Yet, when we now hear that there will be a ‘risk-based’ approach to Septic Tank Inspections, instead of an approach which involves inspecting all septic tanks … independently, competently and thoroughly … it is clear that the Minister, and senior officials in his Department, have failed to learn any lessons from ‘Priory Hall’.

What was happening on Irish construction sites during the Celtic Tiger boom years … has been happening for twenty years all over the country … more precisely, since the introduction of legal national building regulations in 1991, with NO effective building control … and, before that again, in those parts of the country outside of the major urban areas having legal building bye-laws AND effective building control, i.e. mandatory inspections by competent local authority personnel at the foundation level and drainage level of ALL projects … and, depending on the type of project, occasional or frequent inspections above ground level.

Over the years, local authority officials who carried out building bye-law inspections accumulated a considerable wealth of knowledge and understanding about local construction conditions and practices.  This valuable resource, widely used by the construction industry at the time, has now been diluted and discarded.

PLEASE LEARN THE LESSONS FROM ‘PRIORY HALL’ !!

In connection with ALL Applications for Fire Safety Certificates (Part B) and Disability Access Certificates (Part M) … competent and thorough inspections must, from now on, be carried out by local authority personnel to confirm proper implementation of Part B & M, respectively, of the 2nd Schedule to the Building Regulations.

Furthermore … while on site, local authority personnel must not be discouraged, or restricted, from dealing with any other Parts of the 2nd Schedule to the Building Regulations.  Under the present dysfunctional system, important horizontal linkages between different Parts of the 2nd Schedule are being widely disregarded and ignored, e.g. between Parts B & D, between Parts B & M, and between Parts B & A … or between Parts M & D, etc., etc !

  • European Union (EU) Council Directive 89/106/EEC has been repealed … and, instead, we now have EU Regulation No 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2011, laying down Harmonised Conditions for the Marketing of Construction Products.

Unlike the earlier EU Directive … this Regulation, applicable in all EU Member States, is binding in its entirety.

And although Annex I of EU Regulation 305/2011 will enter into force from 1 July 2013 … the Department should now prepare for, and slowly begin the process of, incorporating all of the Annex I Basic Requirements for Construction Works into the 2nd Schedule of the Irish Building Regulations.

SEE BELOW …

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2.  Firefighter Safety

Fully consistent with Basic Requirement for Construction Works 2(e), in Annex I of EU Regulation No. 305/2011 … Revise Part B Requirement 5 to read as follows …

B5  Firefighter Safety, and Access and Facilities for the Fire Service

A building shall be so designed and constructed that the safety of firefighters is adequately considered and, in the event of an outbreak of fire, that there is adequate provision for access for fire appliances and such other facilities as may be required to assist the fire service in the protection of life and property.

Two examples of issues which should be highlighted in a relevant revision/addition to TGD B’s Guidance Text:

  • The incorporation, in building designs, of alternative safe means of approach towards the scene of a fire by firefighters ;
  • The provision of wider staircases in buildings in order to facilitate the recovery of an injured/impaired firefighter during the course of firefighting operations.

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3.  Protection of Vulnerable Building Users from Fire

The European Union ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 23 December 2010.  Ireland has not yet ratified the Convention.

However … fully consistent with Ireland’s legal obligation, under Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), to co-operate fully with EU Institutions in their implementation of this UN Convention … Revise Part B Requirement 1 to read as follows …

B1  Means of Evacuation in the Event of an Outbreak of Fire

A building shall be so designed and constructed that the protection of vulnerable building users is adequately considered and, in the event of an outbreak of fire, that there are adequate and accessible means of evacuation from the building to a place of safety remote from the building, capable of being safely and effectively used.

[ Use of the word ‘escape’, in the context of emergencies, should be strongly discouraged at all times. ]

Concerning TGD B’s Guidance Text … reference to ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment’ will be more than sufficient.

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Specifically relating to Adequate Protection of Vulnerable Building Users from Fire

NOTE WELL THAT BS 9999 (AND BS 5588:PART EIGHT)  IS (ARE)  ENTIRELY UNFIT FOR PURPOSE !!

Please carefully examine the attached PDF File – My Note for the National Standards Authority of Ireland:  ‘BS 9999:2008 & BS 8300:2009 – Impacts on Accessibility Design in Ireland & Implications for ISO Accessibility & Fire Safety Standards’ , dated June 2009.

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4.  TGD B’s Appendix A – Performance of Materials and Structures

2 Important Notes should be added to Paragraph A21 – Structural Fire Design

  • In complying with Part B, reference should also be made to Part A of the 2nd Schedule of the Building Regulations, particularly Requirement A3 – Disproportionate Collapse ;

and

  • In order to show that a Fire Protection Material/Product/System for Structural Elements properly complies with Part D … it is also necessary, besides showing that it has been adequately fire tested, to show that the material/product/system is durable over a specified, reasonably long life cycle … and that it can adequately resist mechanical damage during construction of the building and, in the event of an outbreak of fire, during the course of that fire incident.

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Specifically relating to Steel Structural Performance in Fire

You should be aware that Table A1 and Table A2 are only appropriate for use by designers in the case of single, isolated steel structural elements.

In steel structural frame systems, no consideration is given in the Tables to adequate fire protection of connections … or limiting the thermal expansion (and other types of distortion) in fire of steel structural elements … in order to reduce the adverse effects of one steel element’s behaviour on the rest of the frame and/or adjoining non-loadbearing fire resisting elements of construction.

In the case of steel structural frame systems, therefore, the minimum fire protection to be afforded to ALL steel structural elements, including connections, should be 2 Hours.  Connections should also be designed and constructed to be sufficiently robust during the course of a fire incident.  This one small revision will contribute greatly towards preventing Fire-Induced Progressive Damage in buildings … a related, but different, structural concept to Disproportionate Damage …

Disproportionate Damage

The failure of a building’s structural system  (i) remote from the scene of an isolated overloading action;  and (ii) to an extent which is not in reasonable proportion to that action.

Fire-Induced Progressive Damage

The sequential growth and intensification of structural distortion and displacement, beyond fire engineering design parameters, and the eventual failure of elements of construction in a building – during a fire and the ‘cooling phase’ afterwards – which, if unchecked, will result in disproportionate damage, and may lead to total building collapse.

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With regard to the above … please carefully examine these 2 Series of Posts on FireOx International’s Technical Blog ( www.cjwalsh.ie ), beginning on the dates indicated …

  • 2011-10-25:  NIST’s (2005) Recommendations on the 9-11 WTC Building Collapses … GROUP 1. Increased Structural Integrity – Recommendations 1, 2 & 3 (out of 30) ;

and

  • 2012-01-18:  Progressive Collapse of WTC 7 – 2008 NIST Recommendations – Part 1 of 2 … GROUP 1. Increased Structural Integrity – Recommendation A … and GROUP 2. Enhanced Fire Endurance of Structures – Recommendations B, C, D & E (out of 13).

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5.  TGD B’s Appendix F – Reference Standards

Add this Important New Standard …

  • ISO 21542 : 2011     Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment

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6.  TGD B’s Appendix G – Reference Publications

Add these Two Important Publications …

  • NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).  September 2005.  Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers.  NIST NCSTAR 1.  Gaithersburg, MD, USA.

and

  • NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).  August 2008.  Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster: Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7.  NIST NCSTAR 1A.  Gaithersburg, MD, USA.

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Should you wish to receive further information on any of my comments … please consult FireOx International’s Technical Blog at  www.cjwalsh.ie … or contact me directly.

Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail communication.

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Kind regards.

C. J. Walsh, FireOx International – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.

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Post-9/11 & Post-Mumbai Fire Engineering – What Future ?

Previous Posts in This Series …

2011-10-25:  NIST’s Recommendations on the 9-11 WTC Building Collapses … GROUP 1. Increased Structural Integrity – Recommendations 1, 2 & 3 (out of 30)

2011-11-18:  NIST WTC Recommendations 4-7 > Structural Fire EnduranceGROUP 2.  Enhanced Fire Endurance of Structures – Recommendations 4, 5, 6 & 7

2011-11-24:  NIST WTC Recommendations 8-11 > New Design of StructuresGROUP 3.  New Methods for Fire Resisting Design of Structures – Recommendations 8, 9, 10 & 11

2011-11-25:  NIST WTC Recommendations 12-15 > Improved Active ProtectionGROUP 4.  Improved Active Fire Protection – Recommendations 12, 13, 14 & 15

2011-11-30:  NIST Recommendations 16-20 > Improved People EvacuationGROUP 5.  Improved Building Evacuation – Recommendations 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20

2011-12-04:  NIST WTC Recommendations 21-24 > Improved FirefightingGROUP 6.  Improved Emergency Response – Recommendations 21, 22, 23 & 24

2011-12-07:  NIST WTC Recommendations 25-28 > Improved PracticesGROUP 7.  Improved Procedures and Practices – Recommendations 25, 26, 27 & 28

2011-12-08:  NIST WTC Recommendations 29-30 > Improved Fire EducationGROUP 8.  Education and Training – Recommendations 29 & 30 (out of 30)

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Colour image showing 'The Cloud' Residential Tower Project, in Seoul (South Korea) ... which will be completed in 2015. Design by MVRDV Architects, The Netherlands. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing 'The Cloud' Residential Tower Project, in Seoul (South Korea) ... which will be completed in 2015. Design by MVRDV Architects, The Netherlands. Click to enlarge.

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2011-12-15:  You know what is coming soon … so Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to One and All !!

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  1.     There were 2 Important Reasons for undertaking this Series of Posts …

(a)       The General Public, and particularly Client Organizations, should be facilitated in directly accessing the core content of the 2005 NIST WTC Recommendations.  Up to now, many people have found this to be a daunting task.  More importantly, I also wanted to clearly show that implementation of the Recommendations is still proceeding far too slowly … and that today, many significant aspects of these Recommendations remain unimplemented.  Furthermore, in the case of some recent key national standards, e.g. British Standard BS 9999, which was published in 2008 … the NIST Recommendations were entirely ignored.

As a golden rule … National Building Codes/Regulations and National Standards … cannot, should not, and must not … be applied without informed thought and many questions, on the part of a building designer !

(b)       With the benefit of hindsight, and our practical experience in FireOx International … I also wanted to add a necessary 2011 Technical Commentary to the NIST Recommendations … highlighting some of the radical implications, and some of the limitations, of these Recommendations … in the hope of initiating a much-needed and long overdue international discussion on the subject.

Colour photograph showing the Taipei 101 Tower, in Taiwan ... which was completed in 2004. Designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners, Taiwan. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the Taipei 101 Tower, in Taiwan ... which was completed in 2004. Designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners, Taiwan. Click to enlarge.

” Architecture is the language of a culture.”

” A living building is the information space where life can be found.  Life exists within the space.  The information of space is then the information of life.  Space is the body of the building.  The building is therefore the space, the information, and the life.”

C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners, Taiwan

[ This is a local dialect of familiar Architectural Language.  However, the new multi-aspect language of Sustainable Design is fast evolving.  In order to perform as an effective and creative member of a Trans-Disciplinary Design & Construction Team … can Fire Engineers quickly learn to communicate on these wavelengths ??   Evidence to date suggests not ! ]

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  2.     ‘Climate Change’ & ‘Energy Stability’ – Relentless Driving Forces for Sustainable Design !

Not only is Sustainable Fire Engineering inevitable … it must be !   And not at some distant point in the future … but now … yesterday !!   There is such a build-up of pressure on Spatial Planners and Building Designers to respond quickly, creatively, intuitively and appropriately to the relentless driving forces of Climate Change (including climate change mitigation, adaptation, and severe weather resilience) and Energy Stability (including energy efficiency and conservation) … that there is no other option for the International Fire Science and Engineering Community but to adapt.  Adapt and evolve … or become irrelevant !!

And one more interesting thought to digest … ‘Green’ is not the answer.  ‘Green’ looks at only one aspect of Sustainable Human & Social Development … the Environment.  This is a blinkered, short-sighted, simplistic and ill-conceived approach to realizing the complex goal of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.  ‘Green’ is ‘Sustainability’ for innocent children !!

Colour image showing the Shanghai Tower Project, in China ... which will be completed in 2014. Design by Gensler Architects & Planners, USA. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the Shanghai Tower Project, in China ... which will be completed in 2014. Design by Gensler Architects & Planners, USA. Click to enlarge.

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  (a)      Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD) – 2012’s Environmental Outlook to 2050

Extract from Pre-Release Climate Change Chapter, November 2011 …

Climate change presents a global systemic risk to society.  It threatens the basic elements of life for all people: access to water, food production, health, use of land, and physical and natural capital.  Inadequate attention to climate change could have significant social consequences for human wellbeing, hamper economic growth and heighten the risk of abrupt and large-scale changes to our climatic and ecological systems.  The significant economic damage could equate to a permanent loss in average per capita world consumption of more than 14% (Stern, 2006).  Some poor countries would be likely to suffer particularly severely.  This chapter demonstrates how avoiding these economic, social and environmental costs will require effective policies to shift economies onto low-carbon and climate-resilient growth paths.’

  (b)      U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin No.7, November 2011

Executive Summary …

The latest analysis of observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2010, with CO2 at 389.0 parts per million (ppm), CH4 at 1808 parts per billion (ppb) and N2O at 323.2 ppb.  These values are greater than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 39%, 158% and 20%, respectively.  Atmospheric increases of CO2 and N2O from 2009 to 2010 are consistent with recent years, but they are higher than both those observed from 2008 to 2009 and those averaged over the past 10 years.  Atmospheric CH4 continues to increase, consistent with the past three years.  The U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows that from 1990 to 2010 radiative forcing by long-lived Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) increased by 29%, with CO2 accounting for nearly 80% of this increase.  Radiative forcing of N2O exceeded that of CFC-12, making N2O the third most important long-lived Greenhouse Gas.

  (c)      International Energy Agency (IEA) – World Energy Outlook, November 2011

Extract from Executive Summary …

There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is underway.  Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high.  Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400 billion.  The number of people without access to electricity remained unacceptably high at 1.3 Billion, around 20% of the world’s population.  Despite the priority in many countries to increase energy efficiency, global energy intensity worsened for the second straight year.  Against this unpromising background, events such as those at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have cast doubts on the reliability of energy supply, while concerns about sovereign financial integrity have shifted the focus of government attention away from energy policy and limited their means of policy intervention, boding ill for agreed global climate change objectives.’

Colour image showing the One World Trade Center Project, in New York City (USA) ... which will be completed in 2013. Design by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Architects/Planners, USA. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the One World Trade Center Project, in New York City (USA) ... which will be completed in 2013. Design by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Architects/Planners, USA. Click to enlarge.

[ Not just in the case of Tall, Super-Tall and Mega-Tall Buildings … but the many, many Other Building Types in the Built Environment … are Building Designers implementing the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations … without waiting for Building and Fire Codes/Regulations and Standards to be properly revised and updated ??   Evidence to date suggests not ! ]

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  3.     Separate Dilemmas for Client Organizations and Building Designers …

As discussed earlier in this Series … the Fire Safety Objectives of Building and Fire Codes/Regulations are limited to:

  • The protection of building users/occupants ;   and
  • The protection of property … BUT only insofar as that is relevant to the protection of the users/occupants ;

… because the function of Building and Fire Codes is to protect Society.  Well, that is supposed to be true !   Unfortunately, not all Codes/Regulations are adequate or up-to-date … as we have been observing here in these posts.

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Just taking the Taipei 101 Tower as an example, I have very recently sent out three genuine, bona fide e-mail messages from our practice …

2011-12-08

Toshiba Elevator & Building Systems Corporation (TELC), Japan.

To Whom It May Concern …

Knowing that your organization was involved in the Taipei 101 Project … we have been examining your WebSite very carefully.  However, some important information was missing from there.

For our International Work … we would like to receive technical information on the Use of Elevators for Fire Evacuation in Buildings … which we understand is actually happening in the Taipei Tower, since it was completed in 2004.

The Universal Design approach must also be integrated into any New Elevators.

Can you help us ?

C.J. Walsh

[2012-01-10 … No reply yet !]

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2011-12-12

Mr. Thomas Z. Scarangello P.E. – Chairman & CEO, Thornton Tomasetti Structural Engineers, New York.

Dear Thomas,

Knowing that your organization was involved in the structural design of the Taipei 101 Tower, which was completed in 2004 … and in the on-going design of many other iconic tall, super-tall and mega-tall buildings around the world … we have been examining your Company Brochures and WebSite very carefully.  However, some essential information is missing.

As you are certainly aware … implementation of the 2005 & 2008 National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Recommendations on the Collapse of WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7, in New York, on 11 September 2001 … is still proceeding at a snail’s pace, i.e. very slowly.  Today, many significant aspects of NIST’s Recommendations remain unimplemented.

For our International Work … we would like to understand how you have responded directly to the NIST Recommendations … and incorporated the necessary additional modifications into your current structural fire engineering designs.

Many thanks for your kind attention.  In anticipation of your prompt and detailed response …

C.J. Walsh

[2012-01-10 … No reply yet !]

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2011-12-14

Mr. C.Y. Lee & Mr. C.P. Wang, Principal Architects – C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners, Taiwan.

Dear Sirs,

Knowing that your architectural practice designed the Taipei 101 Tower, which was completed in 2004 … and, later, was also involved in the design of other tall and super-tall buildings in Taiwan and China … we have been examining your Company WebSite very carefully.  However, some essential information is missing.

As you are probably aware … implementation of the 2005 & 2008 U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Recommendations on the Collapse of WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7, in New York City, on 11 September 2001 … is still proceeding at a snail’s pace, i.e. very slowly.  Today, many significant aspects of NIST’s Recommendations remain unimplemented.

For our International Work … we would like to understand how you have responded directly to the NIST Recommendations … and incorporated the necessary additional modifications into your current architectural designs.

Many thanks for your kind attention.  In anticipation of your prompt and detailed response …

C.J. Walsh

[2012-01-10 … No reply yet !]

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So … how many Clients, or Client Organizations, are aware that to properly protect their interests … even, a significant part of their interests … it is vitally necessary that Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives be developed which will have a much wider scope ?   The answer is … not many !

How many Architects, Structural Engineers, and Fire Engineers fully explain this to their Clients or Client Organizations ?

And how many Clients/Client Organizations either know that they should ask, or have the balls to ask … their Architect, Structural Engineer and Fire Engineer for this explanation … and furthermore, in the case of any High-Rise Building, Iconic Building, or Building having an Important Function or an Innovative Design … ask the same individuals for some solid reassurance that they have responded directly to the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations … and incorporated the necessary additional modifications into your current designs … whatever current Building and Fire Codes/Regulations do or do not say ??   A big dilemma !

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A common and very risky dilemma for Building Designers, however, arises in the situation where the Project Developer, i.e. the Client/Client Organization … is the same as the Construction Organization.  The Project Design & Construction Team – as a whole – now has very little power or authority if a conflict arises over technical aspects of the design … or over construction costs.  An even bigger dilemma !!

Colour image showing the Kingdom Tower Project, in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) ... which will be completed in 2018. Design by Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture, USA. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the Kingdom Tower Project, in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) ... which will be completed in 2018. Design by Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture, USA. Click to enlarge.

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  4.     The Next Series of Posts – 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations

In the new year of 2012 … I will examine the later NIST Recommendations which were a response to the Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse of World Trade Center Building No.7.

Colour image showing the Signature Tower Project, in Jakarta (Indonesia) ... which will be completed in 2016. Design by Smallwood Reynolds Stewart Stewart Architects & Planners, USA. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the Signature Tower Project, in Jakarta (Indonesia) ... which will be completed in 2016. Design by Smallwood Reynolds Stewart Stewart Architects & Planners, USA. Click to enlarge.

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  5.     Please … Your Comments, Views & Opinions ?!?

The future of  Conventional Fire Engineering ended on the morning of Tuesday, 11 September 2001, in New York City … an engineering discipline constrained by a long heritage deeply embedded in, and manacled to, an outdated and inflexible prescriptive approach to Codes/Regulations and Standards … an approach which is irrational, ignores the ‘real’ needs of the ‘real’ people who use and/or occupy ‘real’ buildings … and, quite frankly, no longer makes any scientific sense !!

On the other hand … having confronted the harsh realities of 9/11 and the Mumbai ‘Hive’ Attacks, and digested the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC RecommendationsSustainable Fire Engineering … having a robust empirical basis, being ‘person-centred’, and positively promoting creativity … offers the International Fire Science and Engineering Community a confident journey forward into the future … on many diverse routes !

This IS the only appropriate response to the exciting architectural innovations and fire safety challenges of today’s Built Environment.

BUT … what do you think ?

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NIST’s Recommendations on the 9-11 WTC Building Collapses

2011-10-25:  Since shortly after my visit to Lower Manhattan in mid-October 2001 … we have maintained an Archive Page on Structural Fire Engineering, World Trade Center Incident (9-11) & Fire Serviceability Limit States … at SDI’s Corporate WebSite.  And I have referenced here … many, many times … the Recommendations contained in the 2005 & 2008 Final Reports of the U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) on the 9-11 World Trade Center Building 1, 2 & 7 Collapses.

In this post (and a series of future posts) … I find it most necessary that the 2005 & 2008 NIST Recommendations now be presented for everyone to read.  Yes, some of Recommendations apply specifically to Tall and Very Tall Buildings … and Building Designers in India, China, Brazil, Russia & South Africa (BRICS), the Arab Gulf RegionEurope and North America, etc., should be fully aware of their contents.

BUT … I am also strongly convinced … precisely because I am an Architect, a Fire Engineer and a Technical Controller … that most of the NIST Recommendations apply to ALL Buildings … so catastrophic was the failure exposed on that fateful day (11 September 2001) … in all of our common design and construction practices … and our operation, maintenance and emergency response procedures !

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PRELIMINARY COMMENTS

  1.     Extract from Paragraph #9.2, Chapter 9, NIST Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers – Report Reference NIST NCSTAR 1 (2005) …

  • NIST believes  that these Recommendations are both realistic and achievable within a reasonable period of time, and that their implementation would make buildings safer for occupants and emergency responders in future emergencies.
  • NIST strongly urges  that immediate and serious consideration be given to these Recommendations by the building and fire safety communities – especially designers, owners, developers, codes and standards development organizations, regulators, fire safety professionals, and emergency responders.
  • NIST also strongly urges  building owners and public officials to:  (i) evaluate the safety implications of these Recommendations for their existing inventory of buildings;  and (ii) take the steps necessary to mitigate any unwarranted risks without waiting for changes to occur in codes, standards, and practices.

  2.     At the time of writing … it is important to point out that although they are related Structural Concepts … and there is still, to this day, a lot of confusion about these concepts in the USA … it is important to clearly distinguish between …

Disproportionate Damage

The failure of a building’s structural system  (i) remote from the scene of an isolated overloading action;  and (ii) to an extent which is not in reasonable proportion to that action.

Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse

The sequential growth and intensification of distortion, displacement and failure of elements of construction in a building – during a fire and the ‘cooling phase’ afterwards – which, if unchecked, will result in disproportionate damage, and may lead to total building collapse.

  3.     Recommendation 2, below, would certainly need to be understood and implemented within today’s additional design constraints of Sustainable Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience to Severe Weather Events.  Therefore … Design Wind Speeds must be increased, accordingly, for ALL Buildings.

  4.     As such a high level of performance is expected … indeed demanded … of a Sustainable BuildingSustainable Fire Engineering must be ‘reliability-based’.  In other words, it must have a rational, empirical and scientifically robust basis … unlike conventional fire engineering, which is yet aimlessly wandering around in pre-historic caves !

  5.     Finally … there is no use trying to hide the fact that progress on implementing the NIST Recommendations, within the USA, has been lamentably slow.  Outside that jurisdiction, the response has ranged from mild interest, to complete apathy, and even to vehement antipathy.  The implications arising from implementation are much too hard to digest … for long established fire safety professionals and researchers who are unswervingly committed to the flawed and out-of-date practices and procedures of conventional fire engineering and, especially, for vested interests !

However … is it either in society’s interest, or in the interests of our clients/client organizations … that, to give you a simple example which is relevant close to home, British Standard 9999 (published on 31 October 2008): ‘Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings’ takes absolutely no account of any of the NIST Recommendations ?   As far as the British Standards Institution is concerned … 9-11 never happened … which I think is an inexcusable and unforgivable technical oversight !

For this reason, the General Public in ALL of our societies and Clients/Client Organizations in ALL countries should also be fully aware of the contents of these Recommendations …

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Colour photograph showing the two World Trade Center Towers immediately after the impact of the second plane. At a fundamental level, this was a very serious 'real' fire incident ... which was extensively, and very thoroughly, investigated by the U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) ... and resulted in the important 2005 & 2008 NIST Recommendations. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the two World Trade Center Towers immediately after the impact of the second plane. At a fundamental level, this was a very serious 'real' fire incident ... which was extensively, and very thoroughly, investigated by the U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) ... and resulted in the important 2005 & 2008 NIST Recommendations. Click to enlarge.

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2005 NIST WTC RECOMMENDATIONS

GROUP 1.   Increased Structural Integrity

The standards for estimating the load effects of potential hazards (e.g. progressive collapse, wind) and the design of structural systems to mitigate the effects of those hazards should be improved to enhance structural integrity.

NIST WTC Recommendation 1.

NIST recommends that:  (1) progressive collapse be prevented in buildings through the development and nationwide adoption of consensus standards and code provisions, along with the tools and guidelines needed for their use in practice;  and (2) a standard methodology be developed – supported by analytical design tools and practical design guidance – to reliably predict the potential for complex failures in structural systems subjected to multiple hazards.

a.   Progressive collapse* should be prevented in buildings.

[ * F-19  Progressive collapse (or disproportionate damage) occurs when an initial local failure spreads from structural element to structural element resulting in the collapse of an entire structure or a disproportionately large part of it.]

The primary structural systems should provide alternate paths for carrying loads in case certain components fail (e.g. transfer girders or columns).  This is especially important in buildings where structural components (e.g. columns, girders) support unusually large floor areas.*

[ * F-20  While the WTC towers eventually collapsed, they had the capacity to redistribute loads from impact and fire damaged structural components and sub-systems to undamaged components and sub-systems.  However, the core columns in the WTC towers lacked sufficient redundant (alternative) paths for carrying gravity loads.]

Progressive collapse is addressed only in a very limited way in practice and by codes and standards.  For example, the initiating event in design to prevent progressive collapse may be removal of one or two columns at the bottom of the structure.  Initiating events at multiple locations within the structure, or involving other key components and sub-systems, should be analyzed commensurate with the risks considered in the design.  The effectiveness of mitigation approaches involving new system and sub-system design concepts should be evaluated with conventional approaches based on indirect design (continuity, strength and ductility of connections), direct design (local hardening), and redundant (alternate) load paths.  The capability to prevent progressive collapse due to abnormal loads should include:  (i) comprehensive design rules and practice guides;  (ii) evaluation criteria, methodology, and tools for assessing the vulnerability of structures to progressive collapse;  (iii) performance-based criteria for abnormal loads and load combinations;  (iv) analytical tools to predict potential collapse mechanisms;  and (v) computer models and analysis procedures for use in routine design practice.  The federal government should co-ordinate the existing programmes that address this need:  those in the Department of Defence;  the General Services Administration;  the Defence Threat Reduction Agency;  and NIST.  Affected Standards:  ASCE-7, AISC Specifications, and ACI 318.  These standards and other relevant committees should draw on expertise from ASCE/SFPE 29 for issues concerning progressive collapse under fire conditions.  Model Building Codes:  The consensus standards should be adopted in model building codes (i.e. the International Building Code and NFPA 5000) by mandatory reference to, or incorporation of, the latest edition of the standard.  State and local jurisdictions should adopt and enforce the improved model building codes and national standards based on all 30 WTC Recommendations (2005).  The codes and standards may vary from the WTC Recommendations, but satisfy their intent.

b.   A robust, integrated predictive capability should be developed, validated, and maintained to routinely assess the vulnerability of whole structures to the effects of credible hazards.  This capability to evaluate the performance and reserve capacity of structures does not exist and is a significant cause for concern.  This capability would also assist in investigations of building failure – as demonstrated by the analyses of the WTC building collapses carried out in this Investigation.  The failure analysis capability should include all possible complex failure phenomena that may occur under multiple hazards (e.g. bomb blasts, fires, impacts, gas explosions, earthquakes, and hurricane winds), experimentally validated models, and robust tools for routine analysis to predict such failures and their consequences.  This capability should be developed via a co-ordinated effort involving federal, private sector, and academic research organizations in close partnership with practicing engineers.

NIST WTC Recommendation 2.

NIST recommends that nationally accepted performance standards be developed for:  (1) conducting wind tunnel testing of prototype structures based on sound technical methods that result in repeatable and reproducible results among testing laboratories;  and (2) estimating wind loads and their effects on tall buildings for use in design, based on wind tunnel testing data and directional wind speed data.  Wind loads specified in current prescriptive codes may not be appropriate for the design of very tall buildings since they do not account for building-specific aerodynamic effects.  Further, a review of wind load estimates for the WTC towers indicated differences by as much as 40 % from wind tunnel studies conducted in 2002 by two independent commercial laboratories.  Major sources of differences in estimation methods currently used in practice occur in the selection of design wind speeds and directionality, the nature of hurricane wind profiles, the estimation of ‘component’ wind effects by integrating wind tunnel data with wind speed and direction information, and the estimation of ‘resultant’ wind effects using load combination methods.  Wind loads were a major factor in the design of the WTC tower structures and were relevant to evaluating the baseline capacity of the structures to withstand abnormal events such as major fires or impact damage.  Yet, there is lack of consensus on how to evaluate and estimate winds and their load effects on buildings.

a.   Nationally accepted standards should be developed and implemented for conducting wind tunnel tests, estimating site-specific wind speed and directionality based on available data, and estimating wind loads associated with specific design probabilities from wind tunnel test results and directional wind speed data.

b.   Nationally accepted standards should be developed for estimating wind loads in the design of tall buildings.  The development of performance standards for estimating wind loads should consider:  (1) appropriate load combinations and load factors, including performance criteria for static and dynamic behaviour, based on both ultimate and serviceability limit states;  and (2) validation of wind load provisions in prescriptive design standards for tall buildings, given the universally acknowledged use of wind tunnel testing and associated performance criteria.  Limitations to the use of prescriptive wind load provisions should be clearly identified in codes and standards.

The standards development work can begin immediately to address many of the above needs.  The results of those efforts should be adopted in practice as soon as they become available.  The research that will be required to address the remaining needs also should begin immediately and results should be made available for standards development and use in practice.  Affected National Standard:  ASCE-7.  Model Building Codes:  The standard should be adopted in model building codes by mandatory reference to, or incorporation of, the latest edition of the standard.

NIST WTC Recommendation 3.

NIST recommends that an appropriate criterion be developed and implemented to enhance the performance of tall buildings by limiting how much they sway under lateral load design conditions (e.g. winds and earthquakes).  The stability and safety of tall buildings depend upon, among other factors, the magnitude of building sway or deflection, which tends to increase with building height.  Conventional strength-based methods, such as those used in the design of the WTC towers, do not limit deflections.  The deflection limit state criterion, which is proposed here is in addition to the stress limit state and serviceability requirement;  it should be adopted either to complement the safety provided by conventional strength-based design or independently as an alternate deflection-based approach to the design of tall buildings for life safety.  The recommended deflection limit state criterion is independent of the criterion used to ensure occupant comfort, which is met in current practice by limiting accelerations (e.g. in the 15 to 20 milli-g range). Lateral deflections, which already are limited in the design of tall buildings to control damage in earthquake-prone regions, should also be limited in non-seismic areas.*

[ * F-22  Analysis of baseline performance under the original design wind loads indicated that the WTC towers would need to have been between 50 % and 90 % stiffer to achieve a typical drift ratio used in current practice for non-seismic regions, though not required by building codes.  Limiting drift would have required increasing exterior column areas in lower stories and/or significant additional damping.]

Affected National standards:  ASCE-7, AISC Specifications, and ACI 318.  Model Building Codes:  The standard should be adopted in model building codes by mandatory reference to, or incorporation of, the latest edition of the standard.

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Buildings & Firefighters Not Yet Safer ! – 10 Years After 9-11 (II)

2011-09-20:  Continuing on from where I left off on 11 September 2011

Applying the Recommendations contained in the 2005 & 2008 National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST – USA) Reports on the 9-11 WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7 Collapses to the everyday practice of Architecture and Fire Engineering has been a central part of our work for many years.  Long discussions on this subject have taken place within CIB (International Council for Building Research) Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’ … and I also chair Commission 14’s Research Working Group IV on ‘Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse’.

My particular interest in Disproportionate Damage and Progressive Collapse reaches back as far as the late 1980’s !

So I was intrigued, amused … and at the same time, highly concerned … to read the following Letter to the Editor of the Irish Times Newspaper, on Saturday 10 September 2011 …

Recalling 9/11

Sir, – One of the most important factors in the tragedy of 9/11, and one that has received scant attention, was the mode of failure of the towers.

They were struck high up on their structures and failed via progressive collapse.  Had they been designed this side of the Atlantic, they would not have collapsed.  These were flimsy structures. –

Yours, etc,

Jim Ryan, Chartered Structural Engineer,

Waterfall, Cork.

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JIM …  If the WTC Towers (which were not flimsy structures !) had been designed on this side of the Atlantic … they would have collapsed.

Furthermore …  If the Towers had only been completed last week in the USA, Ireland, England & Wales, India or China … they would still collapse, if a similar event were to occur next year.

To be crystal clear …  What we witnessed, on Tuesday 11 September 2001, was a Collapse Level Event (CLE) which exposed, very harshly and cruelly, a catastrophic failure in all of our common Design and Construction Practices and Procedures used in/by/as …

  • Architectural Design | (Ambient) Structural Engineering | Fire Engineering ;
  • Building Management Systems ;
  • Emergency Responders | Firefighters | Rescue Teams ;
  • Technical Control Organizations Having Authority (AHJ’s) or Jurisdiction ;
  • Fire Safety Objectives in Building Legislation, Codes and Standards.

To the average ‘person in the street’ …  Whether he/she lives in Manhattan or Chicago in the USA, Dublin or Cork in Ireland, Cardiff or London in Britain, Dilli or Mumbai in India, Beijing or Shanghai or Hong Kong in China … it is unacceptable that buildings collapse … entirely unacceptable !!

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COLLAPSE OF WTC BUILDINGS 1, 2 & 7

JIM …  Unless you believe in conspiracy theories, please study the 2005 & 2008 NIST(USA) Reports on the 9-11 WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7 Collapses.  The 2 Final Reports can be downloaded from this Page on Sustainable Design International’s Corporate WebSitehttp://www.sustainable-design.ie/fire/structdesfire.htm … along with other key documents and links.

Some indication of the enormous quantity of 9-11 WTC Incident Documentation issued by NIST(USA) can be seen below …

Colour photograph showing the enormous quantity of 9-11 WTC Incident Documentation, issued by the U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology, which is still readily available for the public to access and download.

Colour photograph showing the enormous quantity of 9-11 WTC Incident Documentation, issued by the U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology, which is still readily available for the public to access and download.

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PUBLIC SAFETY 10 YEARS AFTER 9-11 ?

If it is entirely unacceptable to the Public that buildings collapse … in how many National Building Codes does the following Critical Public Safety Equation appear today ?   The answer is NONE !

Colour image showing Page 21 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 21 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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Is there some fundamental reason why Levels of Safety for the Public should vary so much from one country to another ?   NO, there is not !

Within Europe, and in relation to the New EU Construction Product Regulation 305/2011, which I discussed here a few days ago … the European Commission, in a discussion document dating back to the mid-1980’s, suggested that the only way to effectively realize a Single Market for Construction Products would be to introduce Harmonized EU Building Regulations in all of the EU Member States.  Of course the Member States, at the time, went ballistic at the very mention of this idea … and it was quickly withdrawn.  I take great pleasure in repeating that important idea today.

Jim …  The Critical Public Safety Statement above is fully consistent with … and meets … the ‘Basic Requirements for Construction Works’ in Annex I of EU Regulation 305/2011.

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However, in relation to any one EU Member State … let’s take Ireland as an example … compare a situation where, in a remote rural location, it might take almost an hour for a sufficient fire service presence to arrive at the scene of a building fire emergency … with a similar situation in the middle of a city, or large town, where the time required will not be greater than 15 minutes … then, although the Level of Safety for the Public can be / should be / must be the same in both situations … I would expect, in the remote rural location having a poor fire service support infrastructure, that the range of Fire Protection Measures to be employed in a typical building would be more extensive, and the performance expected of those Measures would be higher … in order to achieve an Equivalent Level of Safety in both rural and urban locations.  Is that not a rational idea ??

Unfortunately, that’s not how the present systems work … National or European !   Levels of Public Safety differ from one country to the next … and from one region, within any one country, to the next … without any good reason … and without meaningful consultation and the full understanding of the Public.

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BUILDINGS & FIREFIGHTERS ARE NOT YET SAFER

JIM …  In spite of all of the spin coming from the other side of the Atlantic … and discounting criminality and fraud in construction practices … Buildings and Firefighters are not yet safer … because the large, difficult, complex flaws and failures in Conventional Fire Engineering have not yet been aggressively confronted … and properly solved.

In a post last year, on 18 October 2010 … I referred to the Cul-de-Sac of Current Fire Engineering … and illustrated a typical architectural detail in a Dublin Building – a common detail also to be found in India, China, USA, England & Wales, etc., etc – which demonstrates a Fundamental Flaw at the very core of conventional thinking and practice.

On Thursday next … 22 September 2011 … at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar and Workshop in the RDS, Dublin … I will present this flawed detail … and a solution which is fully compatible with … and answers … the NIST Recommendations !

BUT … would anybody like to show me where any National Building Codes have been revised and updated to solve this Fundamental Flaw ?

Colour image showing Page 33 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 33 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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Colour image showing Page 35 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 35 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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Colour image showing Page 36 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 36 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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Colour image showing Page 37 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 37 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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Colour image showing Page 38 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 38 from my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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A CASE STUDY OF ENGLAND & WALES

10 years after 9-11 … there are two reasons for taking a closer look at England & Wales (Britain)

  • The Building Regulations for England & Wales were used as the model for the Irish Building Regulations, which were first introduced here in the early 1990’s.  And, in the absence of Harmonized European Standards … British National Standards tend, with only a few exceptions, to become the default Irish National Standard ;
  • British National Standards are being applied in many different parts of the world outside England & Wales … in most cases, without any proper consideration of content … or adaptation to local conditions.

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Colour image showing the Cover Page of Approved Document B: 'Fire Safety' ... Volume 2 - Buildings Other Than Dwellinghouses ... from the Building Regulations for England & Wales. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the Cover Page of Approved Document B: 'Fire Safety' ... Volume 2 - Buildings Other Than Dwellinghouses ... from the Building Regulations for England & Wales. Click to enlarge.

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The Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland) Annual Fire Conference, which was held last year, on Wednesday 20th October 2010 … in the Dublin Fire Brigade Training Centre, Marino, Dublin … threw up some interesting ‘notions’ for consideration by a diverse range of participants.

One curious proposition … repeated quite often during the day … was that Approved Document B, in the British System of Building Regulations, was basically still a sound document … and that it should pass an upcoming major review with little difficulty.

I don’t agree … Approved Document B is inadequate and dysfunctional !

With regard to Structural Performance in Fire … instead of referring to Approved Document A – Structure … the reader is referred to Appendices at the back of Approved Document B, which only reinforce the erroneous concept of Single Structural Element Fire Protection …

And along with its many other major problems … see my post, dated 2009-06-14 … British Standard BS 9999 takes no account of any of the 2005 & 2008 NIST Recommendations, Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse or Disproportionate Damage … and, in fact, directly conflicts with aspects of the Building Regulations for England & Wales …

Colour image showing Page 51 in the Appendix of my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 51 in the Appendix of my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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In order to take a close look at Approved Document B … I used the vehicle of a Notional Hotel Project in Cardiff, Wales … similar to the Early 1990’s Dublin Hotel Project shown above …

Colour image showing Page 52 in the Appendix of my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 52 in the Appendix of my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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With regard to properly showing Fitness for Intended Use of Fire Protection related Products and Building Systems … instead of referring to Regulation 7 … the reader is again referred to Appendices at the back of Approved Document B … which explains why we have such serious problems, i.e. lack of Durability and very low Resistance to Mechanical Damage, with the Thermal Insulation Products used for the Fire Protection of Structural Steelwork …

I also had to quote from Part D of the Irish Building Regulations to fill a gap in the British Regulation 7

Colour image showing Page 53 in the Appendix of my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing Page 53 in the Appendix of my Overhead Presentation on 'Sustainable Fire Engineering' ... scheduled for this Thursday, 22 September 2011, at the ASFP Ireland Fire Seminar & Workshop ... to be held at the RDS, in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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Building Design Must Improve Firefighter Safety in Fire Incidents !

2011-07-05 … 
It has been a harsh experience to leave the last post undisturbed for a few weeks !   It was necessary … and I feel better as a result.
 

Back to the present … and in any jurisdiction, news of  Firefighter Fatalities and/or Injuries is very distressing.  It has been remarkable to note, however, how some countries, e.g. Japan, are expending significant time and resources on developing innovative ways to improve firefighter safety in buildings … while most countries are not.  Over many years, I have formed the clear impression that, generally, firefighters are regarded in much the same way as soldiers, i.e. they are a disposable asset … ‘Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die’ … etc., etc.  This situation is entirely unacceptable, and in need of urgent resolution !

On 6th & 7th July … in Cardiff, Wales … I have been invited by the International President of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE), Mr. HG Tay, to make a presentation on ‘Sustainable Fire Engineering’ at the 2011 IFE International Fire Conference and Annual General Meeting.  I am greatly honoured by this invitation.

During the course of that presentation, I will be referring to Firefighter Safety … but much more needs to be said, beforehand, in relation to the untapped contribution of building design to greater levels of firefighter safety …

INTRODUCTION

It may be obvious for some (but, believe me, not for all !) that with regard to fighting fires in buildings … Firefighters have 2 Basic Functions :

  • to rescue people who are trapped in a Fire Building (i.e. a building which is on fire) … or people who, for some reason, cannot independently evacuate the building (e.g. people with activity limitations) ;   and
  • to fight those fires, and ensure that they are properly extinguished.

Note:  Extinction of a fire is confirmed only after a thorough visual inspection by a competent person.

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DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

In a previous post, dated 13 December 2010 I said that it was no longer ethically acceptable to ignore the issue of Firefighter Safety in the design and construction of buildings … because design can make a major contribution to their safety.

Unfortunately, Firefighter Safety must continue to remain an ethical issue because Building Regulations in most countries rarely, if ever, refer to this important aspect of design and construction.  Safety at Work Legislation has a related, but different, intent.

Regrettably, most of the building design professions either have no Code of Ethics … or there is a Code which is ‘lite-lite-lite’, i.e. very weak on ethics … or, worse still, they have a Code … but it is called a Code of Professional Conduct, the principal intent of which is to preserve and protect the profession and its vested interests.

At European Level …

Essential Requirements 1 & 2 (of 6 … for the time being) … in Annex I of European Union (EU) Council Directive 89/106/EEC, of 21 December 1988, on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to Construction Products … state the following …

1. Mechanical Resistance & Stability

The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that the loadings that are liable to act on it during its construction and use will not lead to any of the following:

(a) collapse of the whole or part of the works ;

(b) major deformations to an inadmissible degree ;

(c) damage to other parts of the works or to fittings or installed equipment as a result of major deformation of the load-bearing construction ;

(d) damage by an event to an extent disproportionate to the original cause.

2. Safety in Case of Fire

The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that in the event of an outbreak of fire:

– the load-bearing capacity of the construction can be assumed for a specific period of time ;

– the generation and spread of fire and smoke within the works are limited ;

– the spread of the fire to neighbouring construction works is limited ;

– occupants can leave the works or be rescued by other means ;

– the safety of rescue teams is taken into consideration.

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Sweden … has incorporated all 6 Essential Requirements of EU Construction Products Directive 89/106/EEC into its National Building Regulations … but has omitted the reference to the ‘safety of rescue teams’, i.e. Firefighter Safety.  Why is that ?

Ireland, along with England & Wales, has not incorporated the EU CPD Essential Requirements into its National Building Regulations.  There is no requirement, in Part B of the Building Regulations of either of these two separate jurisdictions, to consider Firefighter Safety in the design and construction of buildings.

In these three specific cases, taken as a simple example, this is a serious legal flaw … especially since the European Template, above, has existed since the late 1980’s !

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Let me illustrate how Building Design & Construction can make a major contribution to improved levels of Firefighter Safety …

     A.  Accessible Internal Staircases Having Sufficient Unobstructed Width

From a building user’s point of view … the success of a building depends, to a large extent, on the ‘quality’ of its circulation spaces.  During the design process, however, an architect is typically concerned with the relationship between different functions and spaces … while, at the same time, he/she is shaping and moulding the internal and external forms of the building.

The full range of tasks and activities in these circulation spaces is rarely, if ever, considered by the building designer.  The subject is not covered in Architectural Schools … and in later professional life, a reluctance to carry out Building Post-Occupation Evaluations (POE’s) reinforces this low level of awareness.

Some Tasks & Activities in Building Circulation Spaces …

  • Access to the building’s spaces and use of its services and facilities ;
  • Egress from the building during normal, everyday circumstances ;
  • Independent Evacuation, in the event of an emergency ;
  • Assisted Evacuation by others, or Rescue by Firefighters, for those building users who cannot independently evacuate the building, e.g. people with activity limitations ;
  • Firefighter Access & Reconnaissance, in the event of an emergency ;
  • Firefighter Attack, as they approach the proximity of the fire scene ;
  • Firefighter Removal from the building, by colleagues, in the event of injury, impairment, or a fire event induced health condition ;
  • Firefighter Withdrawal at the successful conclusion of firefighting operations.

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Colour photograph showing an injured, or impaired, firefighter being assisted by two colleagues in an upward staircase removal exercise. For reasons outlined in a previous post (2010-12-13) ... all three firefighters must continue to wear full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) ... and use Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing an injured, or impaired, firefighter being assisted by two colleagues in an upward staircase removal exercise. For reasons outlined in a previous post (2010-12-13) ... all three firefighters must continue to wear full Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) ... and use Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). Click to enlarge.

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The photograph above was extracted from this  2010 Poster Presentation

Daniel DiRenzo, Cherry Hill Fire Department, New Jersey, USA

Building Fires – Personal Harness Use – Firefighter Removals

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.73 Mb)

No matter what the jurisdiction … no matter what Building Regulations do or do not require … it is clear that, during a ‘real’ fire emergency, patterns of circulation are not simple … and they cannot easily be segregated into categories with simple titles.  They are complex … and, quite often, they overlap.

In the case of the firefighter removal on a staircase (shown above) … there is a necessity to consider another type of ‘Contraflow’ … where the injured, or impaired, firefighter with two of his/her colleagues rendering assistance are together moving away from the scene of the fire … while other firefighters are moving in the opposite direction, towards the fire.

In all but the most simple and smallest building types, this is what a Fire Evacuation Staircase should look like below … having a clear unobstructed staircase width, between handrails, of 1500 mm … with a stair going/tread of 300 mm, and a stair riser of 150 mm.  Proper attention by the designer to Accessibility Design Criteria will also make the staircase far, far easier … and safer … for Firefighter Movement …

Colour drawing taken from International Standard ISO FDIS 21542, and associated inset photographs ... showing a Fire Evacuation Staircase suitable for All Building Types, which is designed for Firefighter Safety. The staircase is also designed to accommodate Building User Evacuation/Firefighter Contraflow, illustrated with an inset colour photograph ... the Rescue/Assisted Evacuation of People with Activity Limitations, also illustrated with an inset colour photograph ... and the Use of a Stretcher. The staircase design is based on the work of CJ Walsh. Click to enlarge.

Colour drawing taken from International Standard ISO FDIS 21542, and associated inset photographs ... showing a Fire Evacuation Staircase suitable for All Building Types, which is designed for Firefighter Safety. The staircase is also designed to accommodate Building User Evacuation/Firefighter Contraflow, illustrated with an inset colour photograph ... the Rescue/Assisted Evacuation of People with Activity Limitations, also illustrated with an inset colour photograph ... and the Use of a Stretcher. The staircase design is based on the work of CJ Walsh. Click to enlarge.

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     B.  Accessible Façade Walkways in High-Rise Buildings

With today’s powerful drivers of greater energy conservation and efficiency in buildings, adaptation to climate change, and a paradigm shift in thinking on the reduction of adverse environmental impact by buildings … External Façade Design is rapidly evolving … becoming far more complex and, in many cases, comprising multiple ‘skins’.

Just check out this architectural feature, below, in an Osaka (Japan) High-Rise Hotel … which not only serves as an accessible route for evacuation and/or rescue in the event of a fire incident … but also permits much easier access for maintenance and window cleaning.

This architectural feature should be mandatory in the case of high-rise buildings with a single, central core …

Colour photograph showing the High-Rise Swissôtel Nankai in Osaka, Japan. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-20. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the High-Rise Swissôtel Nankai in Osaka, Japan. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-20. Click to enlarge.

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Colour photograph showing the External Walkway on the Building Façade of the High-Rise Swissôtel Nankai in Osaka, Japan. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-19. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the External Walkway on the Building Façade of the High-Rise Swissôtel Nankai in Osaka, Japan. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-19. Click to enlarge.

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Colour photograph showing the Hotel Room Evacuation Panel to the External Façade Walkway, which can also facilitate rescue by firefighters during a fire incident. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-19. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the Hotel Room Evacuation Panel to the External Façade Walkway, which can also facilitate rescue by firefighters during a fire incident. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-19. Click to enlarge.

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Building Design can make a substantial contribution to greater Firefighter Safety !!

BUT … who is raising the awareness of building designers about this issue ???

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Dublin IFE Fire Conference – Sustainable Fire Engineering !

2010-10-18:  Nothing less than a complete Paradigm Shift to Sustainable Fire Engineering is now needed … because it is Necessary … because it is Inevitable … because it is The Future !!!

This process will not proceed, however, unless the International Fire Science & Engineering Community begins to communicate and engage, meaningfully, with the Mainstream Construction Sector … where this process is already well advanced.

One Organization in our community has recently decided to bite the bullet … CIB (International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction) … where Working Commission 14 (W14) – ‘Fire Safety’ … agreed, at a meeting in Zurich, to significantly expand and elaborate its own Scope … please note the keywords in bold text …

A CIB Working Commission … W14 is an international, multi-stakeholder, trans-disciplinary, pre-normalization forum for discussion, and action, on research and innovation in Fire Science and Engineering for the design, construction and operation of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.

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Colour image showing the Title Page of CJ Walsh's Presentation at the Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch) Annual Fire Conference ... which will be held on Wednesday, 20th October 2010, in Dublin. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the Title Page of CJ Walsh’s Presentation at the Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch) Annual Fire Conference … which will be held on Wednesday, 20th October 2010, in Dublin. Click to enlarge.

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This will be my important message on Wednesday next, 20th October 2010, when I address the Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch) Annual Fire Conference … which will be held in the Dublin Fire Brigade Training Centre, Marino, Dublin 1 … beginning at 09.30 hrs in the morning.

Institution of Fire Engineers (Ireland Branch)

2010 IFE Annual Fire Conference Brochure

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (326kb)

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Three Powerful Pulling Forces for Change … or should I say Dragging Forces, with a lot of kicking and screaming involved (!) … will have a direct impact …

1.  Sustainable Design

The interior view shown below is not that of a Sustainable Building … but of a Modern Architectural Icon, designed by the Master Architect Mies van der Rohe towards the end of the 1920’s … way back in the last century !   Two innovative architectural concepts are elegantly illustrated in the photograph …

  • Open Planning – one space ‘flows’ into the next without interruption by a physical barrier … drawing the eye and encouraging movement.  In this particular building … a building of architectural, cultural and historical importance … any attempt to impose ‘fire compartmentation’ on the layout would be utterly ridiculous !
  • Separation of Building Structure & Fabric – notice the column in the foreground.  This is quite unlike the massive form of building construction in the past !

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Colour photograph showing an Interior View of the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by the German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-03-20. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing an Interior View of the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by the German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-03-20. Click to enlarge.

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Fire Engineering is still trying to grapple … unsuccessfully … with innovative approaches, dating from the early part of the 20th Century, to Architectural Design.  In the 21st Century, Sustainable Design – not Green Design – involves a far more radical approach to Design, the use of Building Materials, and Construction.  In the face of this much greater challenge, Fire Engineering must begin to respond effectively … with creativity and imagination.  There is no other alternative !

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2.  Cul-de-Sac of Current Fire Engineering

Working in Building Control at the time … I encountered the Typical Building Detail shown below in an early 1990’s Dublin Hotel Extension Project … comprising a 10 metre span steel beam … with non-loadbearing steel stud partitioning beneath, separating a corridor from bedrooms … each with 1 Hour’s Fire Resistance.  During a fire and long before the period of 1 Hour has elapsed … that steel beam will have deflected by a considerable dimension.  What happens, then, to the non-loadbearing steel stud partition, below, and its fire resistance performance ???   This makes no sense.

Does current Fire Engineering have a robust rational and empirical basis … or is it just one remove from Voodoo and Witchcraft ??

Black and white 'concept' drawing, with a small touch of colour, showing a typical detail in an early 1990's Dublin Hotel Extension Project ... of a 10 metre span steel beam ... with non-loadbearing steel stud partitioning beneath, separating a corridor from bedrooms ... each with 1 hour's fire resistance ?!? Drawn by CJ Walsh.

Black and white ‘concept’ drawing, with a small touch of colour, showing a typical detail in an early 1990’s Dublin Hotel Extension Project … of a 10 metre span steel beam … with non-loadbearing steel stud partitioning beneath, separating a corridor from bedrooms … each with 1 hour’s fire resistance ?!? Drawn by CJ Walsh.

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3.  NIST(USA) Recommendations on the 9-11 WTC Building Collapses

Determined resistance by Vested Interests … a Lack of Institutional Capacity, i.e. failure to be able to properly anticipate, or to be adequately prepared, and/or to respond effectively and in a timely manner to major fire incidents … and a small element of the ‘Issue Attention Cycle’, where considerable investment in time and resources were necessary to make real progress on the issues thrown up by 9-11 but, unfortunately, governmental and public attention soon waned and dissipated … shifting to new problems, e.g. the Illegal Iraq ‘Crusade’ … have all contributed to a situation where there has been little in the way of substantive implementation of the Recommendations contained in the 2005 and 2008 NIST(USA) Reports on the 9-11 WTC Buildings 1, 2 & 7 Collapses … in the United States of America, Europe … or anywhere else.

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Colour photograph of the World Trade Center Complex in New York, taken at the time of the 2nd Plane Impact during the morning of Tuesday, 11th September 2001. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph of the World Trade Center Complex in New York, taken at the time of the 2nd Plane Impact during the morning of Tuesday, 11th September 2001. Click to enlarge.

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That is not our approach, here, at FireOx International – the Fire Engineering Division of Sustainable Design International Ltd.  Instead, we have decided to present all of the NIST Recommendations … to our readers … in a Series of Posts on this Technical Blog.

Sustainable Fire Engineering HAS a robust rational and empirical basis !

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CIB W14: ‘Fire Safety’ – Recent Important Meeting in Zurich

2010-10-07:  Established in 1953 … CIB (International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction) is an Organization whose objectives are to stimulate and facilitate international co-operation and information exchange between research institutes and research-oriented individuals in the Global Construction Sector.

In 2010CIB is now a worldwide network of over 5000 experts … from about 500 member organisations active in the research community, in industry or in education … who co-operate and exchange information in over 50 CIB Working Commissions and Task Groups, covering all fields in building and construction related research and innovation.

CIB Working Commissions initiate projects for the purposes of R&D and information exchange … organise meetings and issue publications.  These meetings can be Commission meetings for members only, or international symposia and congresses open to everyone.  Publications can be proceedings, scientific or technical analyses and international state-of-the-art reports.

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CIB Working Commission 14 (W14) recently held an important meeting at EMPA Headquarters (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science & Technology) in Zurich, Switzerland … on Monday and Tuesday, 30th and 31st August 2010.  The meeting was very well attended … and the discussions, throughout, were lively, interesting and challenging !

The Co-Ordinator for W14 … Prof. Dr. George Hadjisophocleous, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada … is Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Holder of the Industrial Research Chair in Fire Safety Engineering.

This Meeting was Important for Two Reasons …

1.  Working Commission 14 Title & Description Revised

Early on the Monday morning, 30th August 2010 … under the Agenda Item: ‘Overview of CIB W14 Mission Statement’, I had proposed that the Commission should review the current, rather outdated Mission Statement.  A draft text, which I had submitted many months before the Zurich meeting, was used as the basis for our discussion.

It was a major step forward that the Revised Title & Description for Working Commission 14 received such enthusiastic support, and endorsement …

Revised CIB W14 Title: ‘Fire Safety’

This will make the work of Working Commission 14 more accessible to the many built environment design, construction and operation related disciplines outside the international fire science and engineering community … and to the rest of CIB, which will facilitate greater communication and co-operation with other CIB Working Commissions and Task Groups.

The revised title will also foster and promote better co-ordination with International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Committee 92: ‘Fire Safety’.

Revised CIB W14 Description:

A Working Commission of CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building & Construction) … CIB W14 is an international, multi-stakeholder, trans-disciplinary, pre-normalization forum for discussion, and action, on research and innovation in Fire Science and Engineering for the design, construction and operation of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.

During the Meeting, it was made crystal clear that the Built Environment did not just mean ‘buildings’ … and that Sustainable referred to all Aspects of Sustainable Development, and not merely to its environmental aspects.

All Aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development must be taken into account at the same time and with equal weight.

This is an important foundation for the International Fire Science and Engineering Community … as it begins to communicate and engage, meaningfully, with the Mainstream Construction Sector about discussions on Sustainable Design, Construction & Operation (including management and servicing, etc.).

2.  Tighter Scope for the New CIB W14 Fire Research Projects

During the remainder of the 2-day meeting … Overview Presentations were made, Progress was reported, and Lengthy Discussions followed on the following Fire Research & Innovation Projects listed below.

I will only make a few pertinent comments about some of the Projects …

a)  Design Fires

During the discussion about this Project, I firmly made the point that proper consideration must now be given to ‘Maximum Credible Fire Scenario’ … as recommended in the 2005 NIST(USA) Final Report on the 9-11 World Trade Center Towers 1 & 2 Collapses.  See Footnote 26, on Page 208 of the 2005 Report, for the definition of this concept.

b)  Fire Performance of Materials

I drew the meeting’s attention to the serious problem of Hazardous Plasterboard/Drywall manufactured in China.  See the Post on this Blog … https://cjwalsh.ie/2010/05/u-s-consumer-organization-identifies-hazardous-plasterboards/

c)  Structural Performance in Fire – Connections

d)  Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse

I am the Leader for this International Project … and our progress can be followed on a separate Page of this Blog … https://cjwalsh.ie/progressive-collapse-fire/

e)  Human Behaviour & Abilities in Fire Emergencies

For reasons which I cannot discuss here, it was considered to be absolutely essential that this Project proceed with all haste … and full speed !

Two Issues in Particular …

In relation to the problems People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF) face in preparation for, during and after fire emergencies in buildings … Existing Standards at International and National Levels have been shown …

  • to lack any proper awareness or understanding about ‘disability’ ;
  • to present a Design, Construction and Management Response to the problems experienced by People with Activity Limitations in preparation for, during and after fire emergencies in buildings … which is far, far less than adequate … or, to put it in more direct language … a Response which is entirely unacceptable … on technical, social and legal grounds.

It must be clearly noted that the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities became an International Legal Instrument on 3rd May 2008.  As a result of Article #11 … in future, to give just one simple example, fire evacuation routes in buildings must be designed to be ‘accessible-for-all’.  This is an entirely new concept for most fire engineers … in all countries !

On my proposal, therefore, the Project Title was amended to include Human Abilities.

Secondly … and further to its introduction during my presentation at an earlier CIB W14 Meeting in Lund University, Sweden, during April 2009 … this Project will also examine the concept of ‘Maximum Credible User Scenario’, i.e. user conditions which are also severe, but reasonable to anticipate … meaning …

  • the Number of people using a building increases, on occasions which cannot be specified, to 120% of calculated maximum building capacity ;

and

  • 10% of people using the building (occupants, visitors and other users) have an Impairment (visual or hearing, physical function, mental or cognitive, psychological, with some impairments not being identifiable).

Leadership of this Project is held by Douglas Hillhouse, Organizer of the Fire Risk Engineering Programme in the School of the Built & Natural Environments, Glasgow Caledonian University.

f)  Fire Engineering Performance Criteria

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Watch this space … more interesting, pre-normative fire engineering developments are in the pipeline !

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Evacuation Chair Devices – Fire Engineering for All in Buildings ?

2010-06-06:  This post has been running around in the back of my mind for quite some time … and I know now, for far too long !   But recently, my patience with certain manufacturers and suppliers of evacuation chair devices has reached its limit.

In relation to Building Users … previous posts have examined the technical term: Place of Safety (see the post dated 2009-10-24) … and why this concept is an essential starting point in the development of any practical … and comprehensive … fire engineering strategy for a building.

Previous posts have also explored the complex issue of Areas of Rescue Assistance in a building (see posts dated 2009-03-10 & 2009-03-17).

For the purposes of this discussion, now, a clear statement of Fire Engineering Design Objectives is required … 

  1. Evacuation for All Building Users … with an assurance of health, safety and welfare protection during the course of that evacuation.
  2. Sustain Building Serviceability during Evacuation … at the very least, while people are waiting in Areas of Rescue Assistance … and, until all of those people can be rescued by Firefighters and can reach a Place of Safety.

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We are rapidly approaching the day when all lifts/elevators in a building must be capable of being used during the course of a fire incident.  AND … these lifts/elevators must be situated so that … alternative, safe and intuitive means of evacuation … are effectively presented to all building users.

Greedy vested interests continue to impede the onset of that inevitable day.

Another surprising barrier to the implementation of this goal, however, is the sloppy and incompetent drafting of fire engineering design standards and codes of practice.  Previous posts have discussed … and shown … some of the serious problems with British Standard BS 9999 – Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings (2008).

A ‘Restricted’ Architectural Vocabulary is yet another barrier to implementation.  High-Rise and/or Complex Buildings are still typically being designed for Access … not Evacuation !   This fault very definitely lies with the architectural and engineering schools throughout Europe.

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Until all lifts/elevators in a building are capable of being used during the course of a fire incident … there is an obvious and pressing need for a fire engineering design solution which involves the installation, maintenance and proper use of Approved Fire Evacuation Chair Devices … which need to be powered or manual depending upon the particular circumstances in a building !

AND, even when all lifts/elevators are capable of being used during the course of a fire incident … because lifts/elevators must always undergo routine servicing and maintenance and they will not, therefore, be in operation for short periods of time … there will still be an obvious need for Approved Fire Evacuation Chair Devices.  So, these fire-evacuation related products should never be regarded as a wasted investment !

I have repeated the word ‘Approved’ because, unfortunately, since these are also disability related products … insufficient attention, and emphasis, is given to Product Approval in this Market Sector, i.e. showing that the product is ‘fit for its intended use, in the location of use’.

At the most basic level imaginable … National Building Regulations in the European Union Member States, and E.U. Safety at Work and Product Liability Legislation … all demand Product Approval.

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Performance Requirements for Fire Evacuation Chair Devices:  Fire Evacuation Chair Devices, powered or manual, must be capable of …

  • being safely and easily operated ;
  • carrying people of large weight (150 Kg minimum) ;
  • going down staircases which, in existing buildings of historical, architectural and cultural importance, may be narrow and of unusual shape ;
  • travelling long distances horizontally … in a robust and stable manner … both within a building … and externally, perhaps over rough ground … in order to reach a Place of Safety.

When going up a staircase is necessary in order to reach a Place of Safety, a powered evacuation chair device must be provided !

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Fire Evacuation Staircases:  A vivid image, with a few accompanying words, are necessary …

Unlike the incredible scene shown in the colour photograph above ... Fire Evacuation Staircases must be suitable for Safe, Intuitive and Unhampered Building User Evacuation, Firefighter Contraflow and the Assisted Evacuation of People with Activity Limitations. A Minimum Clear Width of 1.5 Metres (from edge of handrail to edge of handrail !) is required. Click to enlarge.

Unlike the incredible scene shown in the colour photograph above ... Fire Evacuation Staircases must be suitable for Safe, Intuitive and Unhampered Building User Evacuation, Firefighter Contraflow and the Assisted Evacuation of People with Activity Limitations. A Minimum Clear Width of 1.5 Metres (from edge of handrail to edge of handrail !) is required. Click to enlarge.

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Fire Evacuation Chair Devices & What To Avoid:  Can you spot the Evacuation Chair Device in the first photograph below ?

Colour photograph showing a Fire Evacuation Chair Device Installation at Dublin Airport, Ireland. On so many levels and in so many ways, this 'decorative' installation ... intended to demonstrate that an organization is complying with legislation ... will prove to be, in the event of a real fire emergency, SO wrong and unworkable. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2008-04-04. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing a Fire Evacuation Chair Device Installation at Dublin Airport, Ireland. On so many levels and in so many ways, this 'decorative' installation ... intended to demonstrate that an organization is complying with legislation ... will prove to be, in the event of a real fire emergency, SO wrong and unworkable. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2008-04-04. Click to enlarge.

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Colour photograph showing a Manual/Gravity Fire Evacuation Chair Device in operation. Transfer from a wheelchair to this type of device at the top of a staircase can be difficult and hazardous ... it can only travel down a staircase, using gravity (never up, against gravity !) ... and during horizontal travel, it is shaky and unstable. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing a Manual/Gravity Fire Evacuation Chair Device in operation. Transfer from a wheelchair to this type of device at the top of a staircase can be difficult and hazardous ... it can only travel down a staircase, using gravity (never up, against gravity !) ... and during horizontal travel, it is shaky and unstable. Click to enlarge.

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Fire Evacuation Chair Devices & Issues To Carefully Consider:  Modern wheelchairs come in all shapes, sizes and styles … are highly adapted by their owners … and can be very expensive.  Why is it a surprise, therefore, to learn that most wheelchair users will not want to abandon their expensive personal property, i.e. the wheelchair, in the event of a real fire emergency.

The answer, of course, is PROPER CONSULTATION with All Building Users (where these are known !) during the preparation of a Fire Defence Plan for a Building.

The following photographs illustrate different aspects of the capability of Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Devices …

Colour photograph showing a Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Device in operation. This particular device facilitates evacuation, down and up a staircase, using the person's own manual wheelchair. Having completed its task at the bottom (or top !) of a staircase ... the device can be quickly released for use by another person who needs assistance on the staircase. Throughout this process, wheelchair users move independently to a Place of Safety. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing a Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Device in operation. This particular device facilitates evacuation, down and up a staircase, using the person's own manual wheelchair. Having completed its task at the bottom (or top !) of a staircase ... the device can be quickly released for use by another person who needs assistance on the staircase. Throughout this process, wheelchair users move independently to a Place of Safety. Click to enlarge.

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Colour photograph showing another Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Device. This particular device facilitates evacuation of an adapted manual wheelchair, which may (or may not !) be the person's own wheelchair. It also facilitates travel on narrow or unusually shaped staircases. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing another Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Device. This particular device facilitates evacuation of an adapted manual wheelchair, which may (or may not !) be the person's own wheelchair. It also facilitates travel on narrow or unusually shaped staircases. Click to enlarge.

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Colour photograph showing a Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Device in operation. This particular device facilitates evacuation, down and up a staircase. It is also robust and stable while travelling horizontally ... both within a building ... and externally, perhaps over rough ground ... in order to reach a Place of Safety. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing a Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Device in operation. This particular device facilitates evacuation, down and up a staircase. It is also robust and stable while travelling horizontally ... both within a building ... and externally, perhaps over rough ground ... in order to reach a Place of Safety. Click to enlarge.

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Product Approval in the European Union Single Market:  Fire Evacuation Chair Devices must be permanently CE Marked … including the product itself, any cover (such as that shown in the Dublin Airport photograph above), all product literature, and any product packaging.

It is not acceptable to print the CE Mark on an adhesive label … and then stick the label to the product !   Correct informative text must always accompany a CE Mark !

Please note that the CE Mark is not a Safety Mark.  A CE Mark denotes conformity with the Essential Requirements of a single, specific European Union Directive.

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