What’s New in Fire Engineering? – Vitali Prylepski

Due to the increase in number and variety of projects requiring professional fire engineering input, Prendos decided to set up its own fire engineering section. Since being formed earlier this year, the fire section has developed a successful business plan providing professional services to existing and new clients.

This year has been a challenging year for the fire engineering discipline as several changes in fire safety regulations have been made by the Department of Building & Housing (now called the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment). These changes include amended Code Clause C, Protection from Fire, seven new Acceptable Solutions (replacing the existing C/AS1), and a new Verification Method C/VM2.

Thus, six new Building Code clauses for Protection from Fire C1-C6 replace the previous four Code clauses C1-C4. The new clauses are clearer and more specific about building performance requirements for Protection from Fire.

New Acceptable Solutions C/AS1-C/AS7 replace the current C/AS1, and are applicable for buildings without complex systems or features. This relatively straightforward set of solutions is based on the risk presented by activities in a building. Design professionals who do not have specific fire engineering qualifications can use these solutions. Acceptable Solutions do not require any calculation or modelling other than simple multiplication.

Fire Engineering

An Acceptable Solution details one way to comply with the relevant part of the Building Code. If the requirements of the Acceptable Solution are followed and met, then building work is deemed to meet that part of the Building Code.

If the designed building incorporates complex systems or features such as multiple mezzanine floors, an atrium, or stair pressurisation systems, then new Verification Method C/VM2 must be used for the design.

New Verification Method C/VM2 provides for the specific design of any building and must be used if any aspect of a building, or its features or systems remain outside the scope of the Acceptable Solutions. It is suitable for use by designers with fire engineering qualifications.

Below are some examples of complex buildings and features which are outside of the scope of acceptable solutions and have to be designed using the new Verification Method C/VM2:

  • Warehouse/storage buildings with potential storage height of 5m or more, that aren’t protected with automatic fire sprinklers.
  • Buildings where foamed plastics are manufactured or processed or are part of chemical processing plants.
  • Prisons and district health board detention buildings where occupants are unable to self-evacuate due to the security features of the building.
  • Buildings incorporating an atrium, such as multi-floor shopping malls.
  • Intermediate floors that are either larger than the limits specified for limited area intermediate floors, or there is more than one intermediate floor in a firecell, or there may be more than 100 people on an intermediate floor.
  • Where smoke control is used.
  • Buildings more than 20 storeys high (from ground level).
  • Stadia or grandstands where tiered seating is provided for more than 2,000 people or where the primary egress for more than 100 people is above the level of the playing surface.
  • Treatment or care facilities where occupants require a ‘stay-in-place’ strategy (e.g. general anaesthetic operations/procedures, delivery rooms, intensive care units, hyperbaric chambers, etc.).

There is a transition period in place through the first 12 months, where the new Building Code clauses for ‘Protection from Fire’ (C1-C6) became effective from 10 April 2012, while the previous Building Code clauses C1 to C4 still can be used until 10 April 2013.

Hence, from 10 April 2012 to 9 April 2013, either the previous or the new version of the Acceptable Solutions can be used, but not a mix of the two. (Note: the new version of the Acceptable Solutions can be used only with the new Building Code C clauses, and the previous version of the Acceptable Solution can be used only with the previous Building Code C clauses).

From 10 April 2013, only the new version of the Acceptable Solutions (with the new Building Code C clauses) applies.

It is expected that it will take some time for the new fire safety regulations to be “digested” by the industry, during which time Prendos’ fire engineering section would be happy to assist our existing and new clients with any uncertainties or questions related to the fire engineering discipline.

Vitali Prylepski – Fire Engineer

If you would like to speak to Vitali about your fire engineering needs, please call 0800 773 636 or email us using our Contact form here.

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