Make fire safety a central topic in building engineering
Within total building engineering, fire safety should be a central topic, regardless of the type or height of a building. Although there are rules and regulations for what a high-rise building is, you need to be aware of the fire risks for any building. Keeping inhabitants safe should be your number one priority, no matter what.
Fire regulation and thinking about fire safety starts the moment you consider a building, whether this is a new building or a refurbished one. Risk management and risk assessment are important aspects to cover because of the impact a fire can have on a building, its inhabitants or users and the owner. These aspects are not just something one person involved with the process of designing and constructing a building should take into account, but they are important for anyone involved with this process (architects, contractors, installers, building owners etc.).
It is best to think about fire safety in a broad perspective. This includes not only facade cladding or insulation materials, but many more technical aspects such as the application of fire compartments within the building, fire-resistant sealing, an escape and emergency plan etc. The starting point to consider fire safety is in the design phase of a project. Ask yourself if you want to comply with building regulations, that are often the bare minimum needed on fire safety, or if you want to do more and ensure a building that will be fire safe for many years to come and thus keep its economic value. If the latter is the case, the choice for non-combustible materials should be an easy one to make. In this way, you design out the risks involved with combustible materials and you contribute to a more fire safe and sustainable building.
If I comply with national building regulations, isn’t that enough?
National building regulations are often outdated, having been implemented years ago and not updated since. They therefore do not consider modern developments, such as the increased fire load (consumer electronics, more furniture, new building materials and modern methods of construction) that is present in buildings nowadays.
Regulations in many European countries do not require the use of non-combustible materials. To be completely firesafe, there is more needed than to just comply with these regulations, that are often just the bare minimum. The use of non-combustible materials for facade cladding ensures maximum safety in case a fire starts either in a building or via an external source such as a rubbish bin or vehicle fire. Also, it should be ensured that the tested kit (with a certain fire rating such as A2 or B) should also be built in the end use situation.