Enhancing Building Fire Safety Performance by Reducing Miscommunication and Misconceptions
Author(s)Park, Haejun; Meacham, Brian J.; Dembsey, Nicholas A.; Goulthorpe, Mark
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Building fire safety is driven by regulations and technical building codes, at least as a minimum requirement. As fire protection engineers (FPEs) design fire safety measures based on requirements in the regulations, they are often viewed as the primary agents in ensuring the fire safety of buildings. However, their mission often starts with given building design features, such as interior spatial layout, exterior shape, site plan, and so forth, which are mostly determined by architects. The only exception is where the FPE is invited to assist in the project planning, feasibility and early concept design stages of a project. Regardless, architects also can influence building fire safety performance, whether or not they explicitly acknowledge or understand this. Although architects design buildings within the boundaries of the regulatory requirements, the architect’s focus is often related to the visual and spatial aesthetics of buildings linked to building form and functionality, which are not subject to the regulations. These aesthetics can sometimes compete with fire safety objectives. As such, buildings can be unsafe in certain situations due to unintended effects of building design features on actual fire safety performance. This research describes the relationship between architecturally conceived building design features, design expectations for fire safety systems, and the actual or conceivable fire safety performance of the building. Steps are proposed that FPEs can take to identify and address potentially competing objectives and deliver increased fire safety performance.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Park, Haejun et al. “Enhancing Building Fire Safety Performance by Reducing Miscommunication and Misconceptions.” Fire Technology 50.2 (2014): 183–203.
Author's final manuscript