As local structural engineers, we are fully aware that fire is a highly destructive element. When a spark ignites, it can spread at unprecedented speed, destroying possessions, building structures and lives. As Structural Engineering Consultants, our company support clients with fire safety insight at the design stage and in on-going management.
One of our structural engineering services is to highlight fire protection measures at the design stage, this consultancy helps to mitigate many common fire risks. Our building services apply to new builds, steel structure design, multi-occupancy tower blocks and heritage properties.
We are also experienced in undertaking detailed surveys in hotels, office blocks and other multi-occupancy buildings. These ensure that they structural features are being sufficiently maintained to comply with building regulations and fire safety.
Grenfell Tower Impact Report
According to National Fire Incident Statistics, UK fire services attended to 74,916 fires in 2017, 809 of which were in high-rise flats of over 10 storeys high. The loss of 71 lives, along with 109 non-fatal injuries made Grenfell Tower the most high-profile example. Located in one of the most affluent areas of London, the destruction of this block of social housing highlighted that fire regulations and enforcement were inadequate.
Investigations into the cause and spread of the Grenfell Tower fire highlighted failures in fire doors, lifts, water supply and the recently installed cladding material used on the building. It was clear that no one had taken on responsibility for fire safety in this multi-occupancy building.
The Hackitt Review ‘Building a Safer Future: An Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety’ considers changes that need to be implemented in order to reduce the fire risk. The impact to the industry will be far reaching over the coming decade.
Structural Inspections of Fire Escapes
This tragic incident has alerted many other landlords and responsible parties to the risk of fire and the importance of design solutions that mitigate risk.
Our team of consultants have seen a considerable increase in requests for Structural Inspections of fire escapes, as the importance of these safety critical features have been highlighted by the review. These inspections primarily investigate the condition of the structural system to ensure that degradation has not led to significant damage to the construction, but also ensure that they are capable of coping with the increased loads that may be experienced in emergency situations.
Checks Undertaken as Part of Structural Reports
All multi-occupancy buildings should be sub-divided into areas that can be independently managed in terms of fire risk. The aim is to reduce the risk of fires spreading and to provide a suitable means of egress for anyone located within each specific area.
As part of full structural surveys of buildings, we can provide an assessment as to compartmentalisation within the structure of a building. As a result, we can suggest measures that can be applied to improve fire safety, working alongside surveyors and other construction industry professionals.
Our inspection can check that compartmentation exists if required, that it is suitably managed and is in sufficient working order. We can produce a defects schedule and advise on any issues that are identified.
Structural Engineering Consultants Investigate Passive Fire Protection
In a Passive Fire Protection survey, our structural engineers will look at loadbearing beams, columns, walls and floors, as well as non-loadbearing partitions. The purpose is to determine that these core structural features will remain in place for long enough to allow occupants and the fire service personnel to evacuate the building. It is also necessary to ensure that the effects of fire in one area of a building cannot cause disproportionate collapse to other areas. Where this could occur design be undertaken to ensure that risks are mitigated.
Bespoke Structural Fire Inspections for Historic Buildings
Our team provides services on all types of building, including those with historic importance, and those which are listed. The techniques and building materials used in their construction do not make compliance with fire regulations straightforward.
Our experienced engineers are sensitive to historic preservation. When standard processes are not appropriate, our fire inspections will determine that there are sufficient measures in place for the building to be deemed at a safe level of risk.
Undertaking Fire Inspections in London and the South East
An increasing number of landlords and building management companies are contacting RWA Structural Engineering Consultants to request surveys in relation to fire related matters. Insurance cover is dependent on full compliance with HSE requirements which protect occupants, workers and visitors. From office blocks in Ealing to Bournemouth hotels, our team provides comprehensive reports, along with the reassurance that the structural performance of the building will reduce the associated risks. Get in contact with our engineers to find out where RWA can assist you in this area.
If you would like an experienced engineer to undertake an inspection of your fire escape or complete a structural inspection of your property, including fire associated elements, please contact RWA Consulting on 01296 624924. Based in Buckinghamshire, our structural engineering consultants provide services across the South East.