Fire service leaders are calling for the testing of construction products to be conducted within complete systems rather than solely on individual components.
Ian King, COO, Zeroignition is deeply committed to this topic and has expressed his belief that a methodical and systematic testing approach is essential to guarantee that the construction industry erects buildings that safeguard occupants.
“To ensure effective fire safety in a building, the sector needs to step away from its current mentality: that a project comprises of individual assets and instead see structures as one complete system, working in unison. This is where the much discussed golden thread has a crucial role to play.
“The construction industry needs only to look at other industries to learn valuable lessons. Automotive and aviation, for example, focus on a checklist approach to fire safety, ensuring every area, and the combined systems, have been covered to safeguard passenger safety.
“In construction, a similar approach is needed. By further embracing the current ‘digital ‘revolution’, the sector can create ‘digital footprints’ that prove the right building criteria and safety checks have been adhered to. This will become essential in the handover process so occupants can feel assured rigid safety checks have been carried out.
“Importantly, a system-led, fire protection design method should also be adopted. This involves checking the specified components work both individually and holistically. Without this joined up approach, we can’t be sure individual elements will perform as they should, in the event of an emergency. System components will generally include:
- Active fire protection – measures triggering a response, such as sprinkler systems and smoke alarms
- Passive fire protection – measures to slow down or contain fire, such as fire doors and fire-retardant materials
“A systems-led approach can combine compartmentation, including fire doors, sprinkler systems and FR-rated OSB boards. Here, an assessment can be conducted where each component is assessed for its individual performance, as well as how it works in combination with other components.“It’s clear, however, for a systems-led approach to fire protection to really work, a shift in mindset, knowledge and awareness is needed across all areas of the industry. Adopting this approach will feed into wider goals of safe and fit-for-purpose buildings and structures.”
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