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Construction still not taking a system-led approach to fire protection

Zeroignition, the fire retardant technology firm, has announced findings from its latest study of architects and specifiers. These professionals were asked about construction projects they have worked on in the past years, and the fire-protection.

While almost one in two architects (44%) said a system-led approach to fire protection is better than reviewing materials, products and designs individually, almost 13% of architects and nearly half of specifiers (42%) said with today’s regulations and testing capabilities this is currently impossible.

Yet 60% of architects said a systematic approach to fire protection should be adopted across the industry, and nearly one in two (42%) feel this method is appropriate to all types of buildings.

However, when asked about the projects they’ve been involved in over the past year, only a quarter (23%) said the projects they have been involved with have taken a systematic approach to fire protection.

Ian King, chief operating officer at Zeroignition, says: “Construction projects are incredibly complex involving a myriad of decisions. Each choice has a knock-on effect and there can be unforeseen results when a systematic approach to fire protection isn’t adopted. While architects know that a methodical way is best, there’s clearly some scepticism as to how achievable this is.  There is still more to be done by manufacturers and architectural bodies to ensure that best practice is fully bedded in.”

Glyn Coates, director, Zeroignition, with over 40 years’ construction industry experience says: “Fire protection is too often an afterthought. Fire safety is still a way off being considered as essential as a building’s foundations or its envelope. This needs to change and a safety first approach adopted, with fire protection built into initial designs and also within products. As this is putting people’s lives at stake it’s hard to understand why it’s not taken more seriously.”

Architect and design practice Design Two has looked at their construction methodology. Commenting on their procedures Colin Wardle, principal from the firm says: “At the moment taking a system-led approach can be quite complex. Too often it can be challenging to work out how components will perform in conjunction with others. Manufacturers don’t make this information clear enough. We manage this by considering fire safety from the very start of a construction project.

“Too often in our industry there’s a culture of cost-engineering which could impact fire safety. While we may specify a component, this may be substituted for something with slightly different performance properties. This can snowball and affect the fire performance, potentially costing lives.”

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