Centralized hub for verification of complex fire engineered solutions in Scotland: feasibility study

Independent opinion on the need, appropriateness, potential structure and potential operations of a central hub for assisting in the verification of complex fire engineered designs.

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15 Annex F: Verifier Qualifications and Competence Framework (Fire)

15.1 E.1 Introduction

15.1.1 The following is excerpted with minor modification from Meacham (2017) given its relevancy to qualifications and competencies for design and verification. 

15.2 E.2 Verifier Qualifications 

15.2.1 It is suggested that the level of qualification and expertise required to attain a CEng in fire engineering should not be required of all verifiers, as this is outside of the scope of their primary responsibilities. Rather, it is suggested that the qualifications be connected to the type and level of fire engineering analyses being verified.

15.2.2 If a design is developed in compliance with all aspects of Section 2: Fire of the Technical Handbooks (Level 1 Analysis), no fire engineering qualifications beyond what is currently expected of verifiers is needed. 

15.2.3 If a design involves ‘minor’ deviations from Section 2: Fire of the Technical Handbooks, or in the case that Scotland moves to develop a ‘prescribed performance’ approach for verification of fire engineered designs, much like the C/VM2 framework in New Zealand, then it is suggested that a IEng, MIFireE qualification and level of expertise is likely appropriate (see Section 4), depending on how the verification method is structured. If like New Zealand’s C/VM2, for example, which specifies values to be used for all input parameters, including those to be used in modelling, the level of fire engineering expertise can be less. This would be considered a Level 2 Analysis. 

15.2.4 Finally, owing to the complexity and potential risk associated with Level 3 fire engineered designs, it should be required that the qualifications and expertise required for anyone verifying a Level 3 fire engineered design – whether employed as a local authority verifier or as an independent third party reviewer working on behalf of the verifier – should meet the requirements of CEng, MIFireE. This is fundamental, since any engineer solution can make use of any engineering tool or method, and the verifier needs to be in a position to competently verify appropriate application of the tools and methods in the development of the engineered solution. The level of qualifications is summarized in table E.1 below.

Table F.1. Verifier Qualifications based on Fire Engineering Design Level

Verifier / 3rd Party IFE EC Qualification

Level 1 Technical Handbook Compliance 

Level 2  ‘Minor’ Deviation, ‘Limited’ Fire Engineered Design, C/VM2 Verification 

Level 3  ‘Complex’ / BS7974 / IFEG Fire Engineered Design







15.3 E.3 Complexity Matrix

15.3.1 Should a tiered system of qualifications be adopted, such as suggested above, a more substantial set of conditions which bound / describe ‘minor’ deviation and ‘complex’ or fire engineered design are needed, beyond what currently exist in the Simplified Approach to Alternative Fire Safety Strategies. 

15.3.2 It is suggested that the quantification of ‘minor’ deviations and the qualification and competency for designers and verifiers will ultimately need to be decided by Scottish government in consultation with practitioners. The following are suggested starting points only. It is expected that considerable consultation will be needed to develop agreed criteria should this approach be adopted.

Table F.2 Factors Triggering Level of Qualification for Design and Verification

Fire Engineering Scope

Level 2 Deviations or Alternatives

Level 3 Analyses

General Applicability[5]

  • 1-2 family domestic
  • Lodging less than 100 persons and less than 25 m in height
  • Office buildings less than X m2 in floor area per level and 25 m in height and occupant load of 100
  • Shops less than X m2 in floor area per level, and 25 m in height and occupant load of 100
  • Restaurants with less than 100 person capacity
  • Simple analyses using algebraic equations and correlations, as presented in credible standards and guidelines, such as smoke filling following CIBSE guidelines
  • Analyses using simple hydraulic modelling of occupant evacuation
  • Analyses using C/VM2 approach or equivalent
  • Qualitative analysis and comparison against design criteria 
  • Any building over 25 m in height
  • Any building with population greater than 1000 or limits as given for Level 2 analyses
  • Any building with atrium open to 3 floors or more
  • Any building of exposed CLT framing
  • Any lodging more than 100 persons capacity or more than 25 m in height
  • Stores greater than X m2 in floor area per level
  • Office buildings greater than X m2 in floor area per level
  • Hospitals with more than 50 overnight care beds and more than 2 operating suites
  • Analyses using 2-zone fire effects models
  • Analyses using CFD models
  • Structural fire engineering analyses using FE models
  • Any ASET versus RSET analysis using computational models
  • Any probabilistic analyses 

Fuel / Fire Characteristics Strategies and/or Analyses 

  • Use of more fire resistive interior finishes than minimum requirements
  • Use of lower HRR products
  • Use of more ignition resistant materials
  • Reduction of ignition hazards
  • Limitations on total fuel load
  • Any proposed use of materials which do not comply with standard fire tests, or which have not been tested using such methods
  • Interior finish materials based on room corner test or equivalent
  • Use of ‘fuel control’ as part of safety management plans (e.g., limit fuel to 1MW fire)
  • Analyses based on development and assessment of design fire curves
  • Analyses using 2-zone fire effects models
  • Analyses using CFD models

Occupant Notification Strategies and/or Analyses

  • Use of additional early detection devices beyond minimum requirements
  • Use of additional notification appliances and systems above minimum requirements (e.g., voice alarms, visible notification appliances, etc.)
  • Calculations which estimate fire detection response as trigger of notification system
  • Calculations of audibility and intelligibility based on specific devices, locations, interior finishes, etc.
  • Analyses which assume particular occupant recognition and response, given specific notification characteristics (e.g., sound power level, type of signal), as based on research or literature

Egress Strategies and/or Analyses

  • Small deviations on fixed parameters, such as exit width, dead end length, maximum travel distance to an exit, where deviation is generally less than 10% and number of persons exposed is equal or less than as listed above
  • Any deviation on fixed parameters, such as exit width, dead end length, maximum travel distance to an exit, where deviation is generally greater than 10%
  • Any reduction in exit capacity, number or location of exits as compared with Technical Handbook
  • Any proposed use of lifts for occupant self-evacuation
  • Any phased evacuation strategies
  • Any ASET versus RSET analysis using computational models

Compartmentation / Structural Fire Resilience Strategies and/or Analyses

  • Use of more fire resistive construction than is otherwise required
  • Use of more fire protective covering (e.g., spray applied fire protection material, more concrete cover, etc.) or thermal barriers (e.g., gypsum board) than is otherwise required
  • Use of alternative structural materials and systems, which have passed standard fire tests, under specific configurations (e.g., CLT with gypsum cover, which has passed applicable fire resistance tests)
  • Any strategy which proposes to use fire resistance ratings of structural components which are lower than otherwise required
  • Any strategy which proposes structural fire engineering to determine fire performance of structural system
  • Structural fire engineering analyses using FE models

Smoke Control Strategies and/or Analyses

  • Simple smoke filling / development analyses using algebraic equations and correlations, as presented in credible standards and guidelines, such as smoke filling following CIBSE guidelines
  • Smoke control, exhaust or pressurization strategies which follow in all aspects approaches as defined by recognized standards or guidelines (e.g., CIBSE guidelines)
  • Any smoke filling and control strategies using 2-zone fire effects models, CFD models, or system models (such as CONTAM)

Suppression Strategies and/or Analyses

  • Use of fire suppression systems, where not otherwise required, without reducing other fire requirements, where there is no question of negative interaction of systems (e.g., sprinklers and natural smoke venting)
  • Use of special suppression systems which meet recognized standards
  • Proposed use of suppression system to reduce other fire safety feature (e.g., extended travel distance, reduced FRR of structure, etc.)
  • Proposed change of suppression system parameters (e.g., type of head, flow rate, design density, etc.) based on hazard analysis

Fire Brigade Intervention

  • Any strategy which aims to quantify and include fire brigade response

15.4 E.4 Expert Peer Review Panel

15.4.1 Another approach which may be helpful is the establishment of some type of ‘central’ peer-review panel or committee. The intent would be to have a panel which reflects the sector – not just fire engineers, but verifiers, the regulator, fire service, and potentially industry and public representation. This is needed because a specific design, by definition, is addressing issues or buildings deemed outside of the Section 2: Fire of the Technical Handbooks, or of a C/VM2 type verification method, and therefore must consider the broader scope of the Building Standards and compliance with it. By including the verifier, regulator (BSD) and fire service (SFRS), it should eliminate the need for additional review. 

15.4.2 How such a panel is set up, who sits on the panel, what their qualifications are, what their scope is, when and how often they are used, how one controls conflict of interest, how they get compensated, and related issues need to be addressed. Considerations might include: Whether the panellists are paid, and if so, how much and by whom (flow of funds). Establishment of an appropriate number of panel participants (large enough to be representative: small enough to function efficiently). Probably a target of 3-5 would be reasonable. There could be a larger pool, from which panellists are drawn, as outlined below. Decision on the range of interests which should be represented (e.g., all sectors of the fire industry, only engineers, …). This could depend on the nature of the project. Decision on how members are selected. It is suggested that ‘the owner’ might identify minimum qualifications (see above), put out a call for members to serve, and establish a pool of candidates from which a panel can be formed as needed (the pool might have 20-30 people, but specific panels only 3-5 people). Formation of a panel could be in different ways: establish a panel, and have it sit for a period of time, or form a panel only when needed for a specific interpretation, or take a hybrid approach. The hybrid approach may be most flexible, say sitting a core panel of 3 persons to serve a period (year?), and draw from the pool if specific expertise / perspective, beyond the core group, is needed on a specific interpretation question. Ultimately, the format would have to fit with time and resource constraints. Issues of confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary information would need to be addressed. Having some international expertise / experience could be helpful. Establishment of term(s) of service. This would lay out period of time someone is in the pool (maybe 3 years?), how long they can serve on a panel (maybe 1 year?), how many times they can be reappointed to the pool or a panel, reasons / process for dismissal, and so forth. 

15.4.3 While the peer-review panel / committee approach could be more involved to establish and to manage, as compared with keeping the Level 3 design verification process decentralized, the panel approach could carry more weight with verifiers and be viewed as being fairer and more balanced (i.e., not a single person’s view).


Email: sarah.waugh@gov.scot

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