Verification of Fire Safety Engineering
22. It was considered that if alternative guidance were to be highlighted, then there needs to be additional guidance given to verifiers on how to verify compliance with these different guidance sets.
- The very prescriptive guidance - should be capable of verification by all competent building standards professionals employed by verifiers without any particular specialist training.
- The middle set of guidance - requires to be verified by building standards professionals who are at least as equally experienced as the design team, which might mean a degree of additional training for staff identified to undertake such verification, but should be within the competence of all verifying authorities.
- The fully performance based fire safety engineering approach - must be handled by those competent to verify fire safety engineered designs.
23. It was estimated that there would be a limited number of designs which followed a fully performance based fire safety engineering approach, probably less than 20 each year, and therefore there was merit in considering some form of a national "hub" which could be responsible for the verification of such fully performance based fire safety engineering designs.
24. In coming to this conclusion the Review Panel had been assisted by having seen the final draft of the report Feasibility of a Centralized Hub for Verification of Complex Fire Engineered Solutions in Scotland undertaken for Building Standards Division by Brian Meacham.
25. In the longer term it might be possible to establish a system for Building Standard Certification of Design for Section 2: Fire, similar to that which has worked since 2005 for the Certification of Section 1: Structure. However, the shortage of professionals working in fire safety engineering means that this is at least five years away and probably much longer.
3. A better mechanism is required for the verification of fire safety engineering solutions for complex buildings and this might be in the form of a national "hub" to verify such applications.
26. Turning to the specific details of the functional standards and the current guidance in the Technical Handbooks the Review Panel identified three areas which need some revision and much of the time of the Review group was spent considering these in some detail. The three areas were:
- External walls and cladding, a linked group of standards all
related to the reaction of materials to fire and comprising:
- Cavities (2.4)
- Internal linings (2.5)
- Spread to neighbouring buildings (2.6)
- Spread on external walls (2.7)
- Escape (2.9).
- Automatic fire suppression systems (2.15).