An Architect's Role in Fire Safety Required for Residential and Commercial Buildings - Business Media Group

An Architect’s Role in Fire Safety Required for Residential and Commercial Buildings


While designing any building, architects have to take into consideration not only matters of safety and public health but must also give sufficient attention to protecting the building from fire.

Fire safety requirements are being constantly updated, and as designers, architects need to adhere to these revised needs for all new or any existing buildings they are involved with. In the United Kingdom, an entire range of issues that were fire-related was covered in a guidance document that came out in October 2008. In this note, architects were informed of all the key areas that can have an effect on building design, with the benefits and limitations that they bring architecturally.

Architects, while designing a building, need to look at a property from all angles, and must consider occupants and first responders. They need to give due weight to materials used in the construction and ensure that the layout and the flow of any rescue action are proper while carrying out their basic design objective of providing a building with its required enclosing walls and ceilings with sprinkler systems in the UK.

Developing Safety

An architect plays a critical role in the safety of a building whose design they are entrusted. They need to give safety a priority in design, and they have a professional obligation to see that their design pays heed to building codes, laws of zoning, and any property rules that are unique to the county and state where they are licensed to operate.

Architects need to think proactively. Building codes are always the baseline for rules of safety but can contain crucial issues that govern layouts and concerns for the fire escape. The architect, therefore, has to look for added ways that can add to the safety of a structure, even if they go beyond what the local codes specify.

Three Critical Issues that Relate to Fire Safety In Architectural Designs For Commercial and Residential Buildings

Good architects will work closely with local fire and rescue teams to ensure that the property they are developing will not become a fire hazard, and also allow easy access to first responders. These ways can include:

1. Construction Materials

Materials that are used in the construction of a building can greatly influence its fire safety while making it easy for first responders to access it.

Fabric materials have their fire safety capability expressed in terms of how ignitable and combustible they are, and also take into consideration their structural elements that need to be in place for their stability. Internal finishes in a building are often a source of fuel for fires, and they need to be specified with great care. The contents of a building can also have various degrees of fire risk, especially plastics, textiles, and items of furniture. The materials behind any surface finish can also influence the properties of a fire.

Architects, as a rule, avoid materials that are combustible. Architecture for both commercial and residential buildings is ideal if it avoids the excessive use of materials that are highly combustible or can produce large amounts of smoke. This situation can never be completely avoided, architects need to work with fire safety crews, to avoid combinations that can be highly combustible, or will create smoke that is toxic, as this awareness can then help in reducing safety concerns in the event of fires.

2. Layout and Flow

The design of the flow and layout of a building will have a great influence on the speed with which fire crews can rescue the people trapped by fires and also help in combatting these fires.

This becomes possible if there is close coordination between architects and fire crews at the design stage.

Staircase design with an accent on length, the width of landings and their number. Preference has to be given to staircases instead of elevators, in situations that demand fire rescue.

Fire crews need to review designs and provide architects with feedback so that any adopted design is rescuer friendly. Architects then need to incorporate any suggestions from the fire crews that will improve flow and safety.

3. Fire Escape Routes in Architecture

All building codes will require the provision of emergency exit routes, and these need to be not only expertly planned but must be easy to get through in case of fires.

Architects need to be constantly updated on fire codes that are applicable, and also need to work in close coordination with engineers entrusted with fire safety so that the escape routes for residential, commercial and multi-purpose buildings that they design, are safe and practical.

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