What is a fire strategy?
A bespoke building ‘fire strategy report’ describes the fire safety issues of a building and how they are addressed. It acts as a guide for the design team, by identifying standards or setting performance criteria, e.g. for the capacity of a smoke extract system, and/or the fire resistance of elements of structure.
A fire strategy should provide information on the design basis for a project and can generally follow a prescriptive code-based approach or performance-based fire engineering approach. In order to ensure its inclusion at the beginning of a project it is often good practice to conduct a Qualitative Design Review (QDR) that involves all relevant project stakeholders. Fire strategies are required for new buildings in order to demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations, and will typically include details of:
- Occupancy type
- Construction type
- Travel distances
- Number, size and location of exits
- Time to escape
- Fire Service access requirements
- Fire safety management
Existing buildings which do not have a fire strategy available will often benefit from the production of an up to date and detailed fire strategy. The fire strategy will guide the fire risk assessment, by outlining the fire safety systems that are in place, both active and passive, so that the fire risk assessor has a standard to work to. Existing buildings which are undergoing refurbishment or alteration will also benefit from a readily available fire strategy, as the planned alterations may affect the overall building strategy.