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Good practice reaffirmed at seminars

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The UK benefits from having a competitive and efficient structural fire protection sector was one of the key messages reiterated at two fire engineering seminars, organised by the BCSA and Tata Steel, and held in Leeds and London during September.

Attendees heard how this service is supported by the industry’s representative organisation, the Association for Specialist Fire Protection who prepare extensive guidance on how to get the best from its members’ services.

The strong position of steel with respect to fire was acknowledged. “We know more about steel in fire than any other material,” said John Dowling, BCSA Sustainability Manager. “This is because of an extensive programme of large scale testing.”

The issue of fire and the provision of precautions to preserve life is a significant one.  “About ten years ago, a published study found that fire precautions can account for up to 8% or 9% of the total construction costs in some buildings, such as shopping centres and hospitals. Even in medium sized office blocks, that figure was typically 4% or 5%. It is important therefore that the solutions adopted for fire in buildings are the best and most cost effective available,” added Mr Dowling.

Another key message from the seminars was that the UK enjoys the services of the best providers of engineered solutions for fire in the world. These engineers can look beyond prescriptive guidance to provide bespoke solutions which improve safety and reliability, often at lower cost.

Professor Barbara Lane, Director, Fire Engineering, Arup, said that in order for a project to maximise the full value of fire engineering, it was important that the relevant engineer was brought into the design discussions at the earliest possible stage.

A number of projects from the UK and around the world were discussed at the seminars as good examples of fire engineered jobs.

Dr Mark O’Connor, Technical Director and Head of Analysis in WSP’s UK Structures Business spoke about the fire engineered solutions employed on the Shard, the iconic building currently under construction at London Bridge which will be, when completed, the tallest building in the European Union.

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