Sustainable Fire Engineering – Road Map To A Safe, Resilient & Sustainable Built Environment For ALL

2022-12-19:  Following on, directly, from the 2016 Dublin Code of Ethics

[ A personal code of ethics – is / must be – the basis for Effective Sustainability Implementation ]


Multi-Disciplinary Input  > Trans-Disciplinary Output

Sustainable Fire Engineering (SFE) is a Facilitator – no more than Architecture, Structural Engineering, or Spatial Planning – in the task of realizing a Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All.  However, SFE has an essential role to fill throughout the difficult journey towards that target.  In close collaboration with other design disciplines, many iterations … twists and turns along the road … will be necessary.

Beware Greenwashing !

Sustainability is NOT a graft-on, or an optional extra, to Conventional Fire Engineering.  This intricate, open, dynamic and continuously evolving Concept must cut right to the core of everyday design practice, and must positively impact all areas of that practice.

Ethical Transformation

In this third decade of the 21st Century … the Safety Objectives in current Fire Codes / Regulations are limited, inadequate, and lagging far behind today’s creative moulding and re-shaping of the Built Environment ;  they are almost, but not entirely, irrelevant in the context of the urgently required transformation of conventional fire engineering.  For anybody who cannot see the broad, beautiful landscape beyond codes and regulations … this SFE Road Map is definitely not for you.  For those who can see, your constant companion … your compass … will be a Personal Code of Ethics.


Essential Considerations Before Starting Out On The Road …

1.  World Trade Centre Attacks in New York City, on 11 September 2001.  Two sets of important Recommendations were issued by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2005 and 2008.  Not only is the implementation of these still incomplete, but the solid progress which has been made e.g. on Firefighter Safety, is continuously under threat from vested interests.  Other jurisdictions have tended to ignore the Recommendations.  SFE takes full account of this Extreme Man-Made Event.

2.  Grenfell Tower Fire in London, on 14 June 2017.  Evidence at the Official Inquiry continues to shock and horrify ;  the entire fire safety regulatory edifice in England is dysfunctional, and it poses a real and serious danger to Public Health and Safety.  Inquiry Phase 1 Recommendations were issued in 2019.  Already, the Recommendation concerning Evacuation for Vulnerable Building Users & PEEP’s (#33.22 e and f) has been discarded by AHJ’s … and it has also been stated (#34.14) that as everything about the single narrow staircase in the Tower appeared to be OK, it will not be investigated in Inquiry Phase 2 … a sure sign of dysfunctional dysfunction !  SFE sees beyond these major flaws.

3.  Sustainable Buildings   Il Bosco Verticale Towers in Milano … this exciting Project, designed by Stefano Boeri and completed in October 2014, has become the International Icon for innovative / environment-friendly construction.  These new approaches to building design are posing enormous fire safety challenges.   [ Remember back … was it 15 years before fire codes were able to ‘solve’ the Atrium in buildings ? ]   SFE, however, must cope with this extraordinary level of architectural creativity ;  and Fire Engineering Practitioners must be capable of active participation, collaboratively, within Project Design/Construction Teams.

Looking past the Milan Project … it is important for the reader to experience a more rounded flavour of where the exciting synergy between Creative Design and the Inclusive Language of Sustainability is at present, and where it is tending to go …

UN HABITAT ~ World Cities Report 2022 ~ ‘Envisaging the Future of Cities’ …

Ar. Vincent Callebaut, France …

Ar. Stefano Boeri, Italy …

Ar. Olando DeUrrutia, Spain …

4.  Building Energy Performance Rating Schemes   Under enormous environmental and political pressures, the headlong rush to conserve energy in buildings, and to make them more energy efficient … especially after the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine … is proceeding in blissful ignorance of fire safety and necessary independent technical controls.  Measurement of real building performance, after energy refurbishment has been completed, is generally avoided.


The Road Ahead … From Gro Harlem Brundtland To Reliable Fire Statistics …


Sustainable Fire Engineering Road Map

Realizing a Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All

(Download PDF File, 36 Overheads, 2.94 Mb)

This version of the SFE Road Map takes account of feedback received after it was first presented on the LinkedIn Group … Sustainable Fire Engineering (#SFE) Network ~ #EthicalDesign #BeyondCodes #DefenceInDepth #SIA … from July to October 2022.




#Twitter … @sfe2016dublin …

#SFE #RoadMap #SustainableFireEngineering #Reality #Reliability #FireInducedProgressiveDamage #WTC911 #SustainableDevelopment #SustainableBuildings #GrenfellTowerFire #ClimateDisruption #ClimateSynergies #UNFCCC #ClimateAdaptation #Cities #FireCodes #Architecture #FireEngineering #SpatialPlanning #DesignTools #BIM #BeyondCodes #Ethics #CodeOfEthics #EthicalDesign #CJWalsh #DefenceInDepth #FireSafety4ALL #VulnerablePeople #Firefighters #FFsafety #Creativity #Wildfires #Bushfires #IncendiBoschivi #IncendiosForestales #OrmanYangınları #IncêndiosFlorestais #FeuxDeForêt #Resilience #Sustainability #SustainabilityImplementation #SustainableDesignInternational #SIA #SustainabilityImpactAssessment #SocialTransformation #SocialWellbeing4ALL

Sustainable Fire Engineering – Recent Dublin Presentations !

2019-03-19:  Two Conference & Exhibition Events were recently held in Dublin’s City West Convention Centre

2019 City West Summits, Dublin – Colour photograph showing the view over the Exhibition Hall.  Click to enlarge.


I was very pleased to make a Presentation at both events, adapted to suit an Irish context, on … ‘Sustainable Fire Engineering – Necessary Professional Transformation For The 21st Century’ … which continues to evolve.

Sustainable Fire Engineering:  The creative, person-centred and ethical Fire Engineering response, in resilient built form and smart systems, to the concept of Sustainable Human and Social Development … the many aspects of which must receive synchronous and balanced consideration !

Sustainable Fire Engineering
Twitter: @sfe2016dublin

Presentation Abstract

Annual Fire Losses, both direct and indirect, amount to a very significant percentage of Gross Domestic Product (#GDP) in all economies, whether they are rich or poor … and result in enormous environmental devastation and social disruption.  Some losses have not yet been fully identified, e.g. environmental impact … while others are not yet capable of being fully quantified, e.g. business interruption, brand and reputation damage.  Globally, fire statistics still remain unreliable.  In all cases, however, the waste of valuable human and natural resources caused by preventable fires is unsustainable and no longer acceptable.

From an entirely different perspective … Sustainable Buildings are presenting every society with an innovative and exciting re-interpretation of how a building functions in response to critical energy, environmental, climate change and planetary capacity pressures … an approach which has left the International Fire Engineering and Firefighting Communities far behind in its wake, struggling to develop the necessary ‘creative’ and ‘sustainable’ fire safety strategies.

The Aim of Sustainable Fire Engineering (#SFE) is to dramatically reduce direct and indirect fire losses in the Human Environment (including the social, built, economic, virtual, and institutional environments) … to protect the Natural Environment … and, within buildings, to ensure that there is an effective level of Fire Safety for All Occupants, not just for Some, over the full building life cycle.

The following Priority Themes for SFE lie outside, or beyond, the constrained and limited fire safety objectives of current fire regulations, codes and standards – objectives which do not properly protect society, a fire engineer’s clients, or the facility manager’s organization:

  1. Fire Safety for ALL, not just for Some.  Nobody left behind !
  2. Firefighter Safety.  Everyone goes home !   It is easy to dramatically improve firefighter safety with building design.  So, why haven’t NIST’s 2005 and 2008 WTC 9-11 Critical Recommendations been properly implemented anywhere ?
  3. Property Protection.  Fire damage and post-fire reconstruction/refurbishment are a huge waste of resources.  On the other hand, protection of an organization’s image/brand/reputation is important … and business continuity is essential.  Heritage fire losses can never be replaced.
  4. Environmental Impact. Prevention of a fire is far better than any cure !   But prevention must also begin by specifying ‘clean’ technologies and products.  Low Pressure Water Mist Systems are not only person/environment-friendly and resource efficient … they are absolutely essential in airtight and hyper energy-efficient building types (e.g. LEED, PassivHaus, BREEAM) in order to achieve an effective level of fire safety for all occupants, and firefighters.    [ Note: Environmental Impact Assessment (#EIA) has been superseded by Sustainability Impact Assessment (#SIA).]
  5. Building Innovation, People and Their Interaction.  Fire engineers and firefighters must begin to understand today’s new design strategies.
  6. Sustainable Design and Engineering. Wake up and smell the coffee !   Legislation can only achieve so much.  Spatial planners, building designers and fire engineers must subscribe to a robust Code of Ethics * which is fit for purpose in the Human Environment of the 21st Century.

Sustainable Fire Engineering Solutions are …

  • Adapted to a local context, i.e. climate change/variability/extremes, social need, geography, economy, and culture, etc ;
  • Reliability-based – lessons from real extreme and hybrid events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 Attack, 2008 Mumbai/2015 Paris/2016 Brussels Hive Attacks and the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident, are applied to frontline practice ;
  • Person-centred – real people are placed at the centre of creative endeavours and due consideration is given to their responsible needs, and their health, safety, welfare and security in the Human Environment ;
  • Resilient – functioning must be reliable during normal conditions, and include the ability to withstand, adapt to and absorb unusual disturbance, disruption or damage, and thereafter to quickly return to an enhanced state of function.

* Refer to the 2016 Dublin Code of Ethics: Design, Engineering, Construction & Operation of a Safe, Resilient & Sustainable Built Environment for All (PDF File, 112 kb).




After Grenfell: Reliable Design, Supply & Construction Essential !

2017-10-10:  After the Grenfell Tower Fire Tragedy in London, on 14 June 2017, the integrity of the English Regulatory and Technical/Building Control Systems is now so compromised that a complete Systems Transformation is immediately required !   Closer to home, here in Ireland … what nobody is daring to say, even our tame media, is that Our Regulatory System is based very closely on the English System.  And Our Technical/Building Control System is purposefully under-resourced … so it is weak and ineffective.

Let there be no confusion … Priory Hall and Longboat Quay, both in Dublin, are just the tip of an enormous iceberg …

Colour photograph showing the Grenfell Tower Fire, in London … early in the morning, after dawn, on Wednesday, 14 June 2017.  Harsh, tragic Reality !  Click to enlarge.

So where do we start again ?

Reality – Reliability – Redundancy – Resilience !

With regard to Reliable Fire Engineering Related Design, Supply and Construction … this is how we must proceed …

  1. Design of the works is exercised by an independent, appropriately qualified and experienced architect/engineer/fire engineer, with design competence relating to the fire protection of buildings ;
  1. Supply of fire safety related construction products/systems to the works is undertaken by reputable organizations with construction competence, particularly in relation to the fire protection of buildings ;
  1. Installation/fitting of fire safety related construction products/systems is exercised by appropriately qualified and experienced personnel, with construction competence relating to the fire protection of buildings ;
  1. Supervision of the works is exercised by appropriately qualified and experienced personnel from the principal construction organization ;
  1. Regular inspections, by appropriately qualified and experienced personnel familiar with the design, and independent of both the design and construction organizations, are carried out to verify that the works are being executed in accordance with the design.