When building work is undertaken, the people responsible for the project should apply for Building Regulations approval to ensure that the work meets expected standards.
Fire safety is an important part of any building design and should be carefully considered by a suitably qualified and experienced design team. Where the work is more complex or where typical industry design solutions are not applied, fire engineering may be used as an alternative way of demonstrating compliance.
According to the Institute of Fire Engineers:
"Fire Engineering is the application of scientific and engineering principles, rules [Codes], and expert judgment, based on an understanding of the phenomena and effects of fire and of the reaction and behaviour of people to fire, to protect people, property and the environment from the destructive effects of fire"
As a statutory consultee we are offered the opportunity to make comments and observations on the fire safety proposals for the design and will use this as an opportunity to recommend appropriate improvements. This process also allows the Brigade to engage with planners, architects, developers and engineers to seek continual improvement in the safety of new and refurbished buildings within London.
The DCLG Building Regulations and Fire Safety Procedural Guidance explains how the process of consultation works and the roles and responsibilities of each party. The key aim of the consultation process, as described in the procedural guidance, is to ensure that there will be no need for extra building work to be done prior to occupation of the building. By having a process of consultation, this provides an opportunity for LFB, as the local fire and rescue service and the enforcing authority for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order to also make comments during the design phase of the project.
We might also be consulted at the planning stage of a project where fire service access is limited or where it is a major development scheme. For larger projects, London Fire Brigade might form part of a qualitative design review team whereby we are part of the design development process (albeit we are not responsible for the design itself).
"London Fire Brigade is an independent party and bring a unique perspective to the design process in having experience throughout the life cycle of buildings. We see them through their design process, occupation and how they are managed/maintained and, for some, how they perform during a real fire scenario.
"Having qualified fire engineers within LFB is key to ensuring that we can positively engage with the design process to try and ensure that the building stock is of the highest level of fire safety for those who live, work or visit London"
Lynsey Seal BEng (Hons) CEng MIFireE AMIMechE
Senior Fire Engineer and Joint Head of LFB Fire Engineering Group
The London Fire Brigade has their own team of qualified fire engineers who use their specialist fire safety knowledge to support not only the consultation process but other technical fire safety work. Within the Brigade they support other internal teams, for example:
They also undertake a lot of external engagement also by representing the Brigade on technical committees and industry steering groups.
2018 is the year of engineering! This is part of a year-long campaign to tackle the engineering skills gap and widen the pool of young people who join the profession. There is an estimated 20,000 annual shortfall of engineering graduates so the aim is for 186,000 skilled recruits each year until 2024. We also supports International Women in Engineering Day to try and highlight the importance of inclusivity and diversity in engineering which is an industry where less than 10% of the workforce are women.