Archive for July, 2009

Sustainable Fire Engineering & Fires in Buildings ?

2009-07-11:   Practical Implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development … transforming our Human Environment by gradually improving and monitoring ‘Real’ Sustainability Performance … depends entirely on directly applying a Multi-Aspect Understanding of ‘Sustainability’, in a manner which is both balanced and equitable, to all of the many different facets of Sustainable Design.

Therefore … responding ethically and professionally, in built and/or wrought (worked) form, to the still evolving concept of Sustainable Human & Social Development …

        … the specific aim of Sustainable Fire Engineering shall be to design for Maximum Credible Fire & User Scenarios … in order to maintain a proper and satisfactory level of fire safety and protection over the full life cycle of a building.

[Sustainable Fire Engineering can be applied, equally, to other elements of the Built Environment, e.g. means of transport on land or sea.]

As discussed in a previous post … the Minimum Life Cycle of a Sustainable Building is 100 Years.  AND, to prolong Building Life Cycle and maximize Building Usability … such a building must be Flexible and Adaptable with regard to internal layout, Accessible for People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF) … and Structurally Robust.


Maximum Credible Fire Scenario:

A sequence of events during a ‘real’ fire incident in a building – related to design, construction, occupancy, fire loads, ignition sources, spatial geometry, fire protection measures (both passive and active) … and an adverse, but reasonable to anticipate, operation and management status – which culminates in fire conditions which are severe, but reasonable to anticipate over a complete building life cycle.


Maximum Credible User Scenario:

Indicates building user conditions which are also severe but reasonable to anticipate over a complete building life cycle, i.e. …

  • the Number of People Using a Building increases, on occasions which cannot be specified, to 120% of Calculated Maximum Building Capacity ;


  • 10% of People Using the Building (occupants, visitors & other users) have an Impairment (visual or hearing, physical function, psychological, mental or cognitive … with some impairments not being identifiable, e.g. anosognosia).


Sustainable Fire Engineering Strategy:

A coherent and purposeful arrangement of fire protection and fire prevention measures which is developed in order to meet specified Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Objectives.

In designing a building for conditions of fire, and its aftermath, project-specific Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Objectives typically cover the following spectrum of concerns …

  • Protection of the Health and Safety of All Building Users … including people with activity limitations, visitors to the building who may be unfamiliar with its layout, and contractors or product/service suppliers temporarily engaged in work or business transactions on the premises ;
  • Protection of Property … including the building, its contents, and adjoining or adjacent properties, from loss or damage ;
  • Protection of the Health and Safety of Firefighters, Rescue Teams and other First Response Personnel ;
  • Protection of the Natural Environment from Harm, i.e. adverse impacts ;
  • Facility, Ease and Cost of carrying out Effective Repair, Refurbishment and Reconstruction Works after the Fire ;
  • Sustainability of the Human Environment (Social, Built, Virtual, Economic … ).


Human Health:

A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.   (World Health Organization)




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Architectural & Structural Engineering Design for Robustness !

2009-07-11:  Earlier in the year … a certain non-native English speaking colleague of mine, who is very active in European and International standardization work (and has very good English !), had never heard of the word ‘robust’.  She just could not get her head around either the word or the concept … and thought I was making it all up !

Fast forward a few months … and as a long-time member of the International Association for Bridge & Structural Engineering (IABSE), an occasional ‘freebie’ lands on my desk.  This one was a real treat !

Published by IABSE in Switzerland … Structural Engineering Document #11: Design for Robustness … was written, in language accessible to both structural engineers and architects alike, by Franz Knoll and Thomas Vogel.

The objective of these Structural Engineering Documents is to provide in-depth information to practicing architects and structural engineers, in reports of high scientific and technical standards, on a wide range of structural engineering topics.

Check out the IABSE Website … … and get yourself a copy … pronto !


In previous posts concerning Areas of Rescue Assistance in Buildings, for example, I have often referred to robust, fire resisting construction

Robust (in the above specific context):  Structurally hardened, and resistant to severe mechanical damage during the fire and for a period of time afterwards, i.e. the cooling phase.

The further development of Fire-Induced Progressive Damage … will inevitably take place within wider considerations of Robustness.




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Local Adaptation to Climate Change – Urgent ?

2009-07-11:  Why are people surprised at the damaging impacts of recent heavy rainfalls in Ireland ?

Hardly a building or a road has been designed in this country for deluge rainfalls.

Existing building and road design practices are no longer adequate.

When, therefore, will any urgency be given to ADAPTATION ???


Built Environment Adaptation to Climate Change

Reliably implementing policies, practices, projects and institutional reforms with the aim of reducing the adverse impacts and/or realizing the benefits directly/indirectly associated with climate change, including variability and extremes – in a manner which is compatible with sustainable human and social development.




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Shell BP (Ireland) Ltd – Are They Having A Good Laugh At Us ?

2009-07-11:  There is something really rotten in the State of Mayo !   It looks bad, it smells bad, it tastes bad … and it is bad … on so many levels.

Is Shell BP just having a good laugh at us all in Ireland ?




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July 2009
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