regulations & standards
2014-11-05: ISO TC 92: ‘Fire Safety’ is a long-established Technical Committee within the International Standards Organization (ISO) … www.iso.org/iso/home/standards_development/list_of_iso_technical_committees/iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=50492 … and down through the many years of its existence, since 1958, it has laboriously constructed a robust foundation which has facilitated the modern evolution of Fire Science and Engineering and the development of many standard fire safety practices and procedures around the world.
BUT … and in spite the existence of ISO/IEC Guide 71: ‘Guidelines for Standards Developers to Address the Needs of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities’ (a weak document which is badly in need of revision and updating !) …
Recently, having examined some draft standards being processed through ISO TC 92 … I have become very tired of the blatant incompetence … and lack of care and concern merging with feigned ignorance and/or stubborn resistance, within the Technical Committee, when it comes to the issue of ‘disability’ … in other words, the major matter of the real fire safety of vulnerable building users and occupants, i.e. people with activity limitations, in real buildings.
SO … a few days ago, I wrote the following e-mail message to a Working Group Chairperson (who shall remain nameless, because this same problem pervades the whole TC) …
With regard to All Aspects of the WG’s Work … one issue, in particular, sticks out like a sore thumb … how you treat ‘disability’. There is no clarity here, only confusion. There are no precise terms, only a garbled use of language and concepts.
Please allow me to suggest, with accompanying explanations, a suitable and necessary path forward.
I will circulate this e-mail message separately within ISO, and beyond.
Concerning Normative References … reference must be made to …
ISO 21542 (2011): ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’
Within this document, Accessibility is understood to mean the full cycle of independent building use, in an equitable and dignified manner … and to include the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.
Texts relating to ‘fire safety’ have been incorporated into the main body of this International Standard. It is, however, just a small beginning. Much work remains to be done.
Accessibility Design Criteria, as described in ISO 21542, must now be applied to the design and maintenance of all fire evacuation routes, fire safety related signage and fittings, etc., etc.
Use of the word escape, in any context, is strongly discouraged.
Concerning Terms & Definitions …
People with Activity Limitations: Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, basic human activities or tasks – because of a health condition or physical/mental/cognitive/psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.
Attached, please find the FireOx International ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix … which illustrates how the separate pieces, including ‘disability’, fit together.
Contraflow: Emergency access by firefighters or rescue teams into a building and towards a fire, while people are still moving away from the fire and evacuating the building.
Concerning Building User/Occupant Numbers & Provision … ‘token’ is not only entirely unacceptable, it is a clear case of professional negligence …
And why, suddenly, all of these ‘musts’ ??
Cogently mandated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … the UN CRPD’s principal aim is to ensure that the Built, Social, Economic and Virtual Environments are sufficiently ‘accessible’ to permit a vulnerable and major population group in all of our societies to enjoy the fundamental freedoms and human rights set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
The language of the Convention is always very robust and very direct: ‘States Parties shall …’
Also attached, please find a United Nations Global Map showing the status of Convention Ratification back in July 2014. At the time of writing this e-mail message, 151 Countries have ratified the UN CRPD.
Full and Effective Accessibility of the Built Environment is a human right. Adequate provision must be made for people with disabilities to use all buildings … not just some buildings … and certainly not just limited parts of a building !
In practice, people with disabilities must be included in all practice evacuation drills … and they must be included in all activities related to ‘fire safety’ and/or necessary to prepare for safe evacuation.
Furthermore … because Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT’s) now serve a function which is critical, during a fire incident, for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage, and sustainability … they must have a user interface which is Accessible for All … from both ends.
With regard to ‘adequate’ provision … please find attached the 2010 USA Disability Statistics … which indicate:
- Minimum Reasonable Provision for People with Disabilities in a Building … 10% of User/Occupant Population ;
- Minimum Reasonable Provision for People with Activity Limitations in a Building … 15% of User/Occupant Population.
The numbers of people with disabilities in developing and the least developed economies far exceed numbers in developed economies !
Best wishes for the success of your meeting in Sydney.
C.J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller.
2014-10-17: Within the professional discipline of Fire Engineering … either a building is ‘fire safe’, or it is not. The Design Philosophy of the Fire Engineer is irrelevant. In fact, nearly everybody involved with fire safety in buildings would collapse in a fit of laughter at the delusional notion that a design philosophy was relevant. People’s lives are at stake !
Similarly, now, we must begin to think and act in the simple terms of a building either being ‘accessible’, or not. At stake, this time, is the quality of life and living for very many vulnerable people in all of our societies.
Accessibility for All, according to International Standard ISO 21542 (2011) … includes the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.
Concerning that All above … FireOx International’s ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix shows who exactly we are talking about … and who must be considered in the development of a Fire Safety Strategy for every building … not just some buildings !
This is not just good design practice … it is also mandated in International Human Rights Law.
Building Fire Safety Codes and Standards exist in almost every country. However – IF they exist at all – those guidelines relating to the Fire Safety of People with Activity Limitations are technically inadequate, entirely tokenistic and/or blatantly discriminatory.
Refer to my previous post … BS 9999:2008 & BS 8300:2009 – Sleepwalking into Problems ?
It is time to Reboot this ridiculous, professionally negligent and obsolete old system … Reload with innovative and practical building design, construction, management and personal self-protection solutions … and Implement !
[ EICT’s = Electronic, Information & Communication Technologies ]
2014-10-13: Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies have rapidly become an essential feature of the Built, Social and Economic Environments; they are everywhere. During a fire incident, however, these e-Technologies serve a function which is critical for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage, and sustainability. They must, therefore, have a user interface which is Accessible for All … from both ends.
This is a requirement of International Law … and an unambiguous National Requirement (expressed in the form of law and/or mandatory administrative provisions) in those jurisdictions which are States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
There is no European Standard (EN) on e-Technology Accessibility … and, in the European Union (EU), a coherent approach to the accessibility of even a modest range of EICT’s has not yet even been developed.
Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT’s) must comply with Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 … or with a suitable Standard/Guidance Document of another country which details an equivalent level of e-Accessibility performance.
U.S. Section 508 covers the following range of e-Technologies:
- Software Applications & Operating Systems (1194.21) ;
- Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22) ;
- Telecommunications Products (1194.23) ;
- Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24) ;
- Self Contained, Closed Products (1194.25) ;
- Desktop and Portable Computers (1194.26)
Source WebSite, Helpful Guidance & Support …
2014-08-28: Earlier this month … the final straw … as I caught up on a ‘piece’ in McGraw Hill’s Architectural Record … which reproduced an original, intriguing article from designMENA.com, posted on 12 August 2014, by Nick Ames …
Rebel Architects Star In New TV Show
Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is to show a series of films focusing on radical architects from Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Palestine and Vietnam. The series – entitled ‘Rebel Architecture’ – focuses on architects using design to confront urban, environmental and social problems in their communities.
Dan Davies, producer of the series, said: “We couldn’t help noticing that despite all the problems afflicting humanity, many of which architecture uniquely has the ability to assist and even solve, most of the mainstream and architectural press celebrates the aesthetics of huge iconic projects, marvelling at insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal.”
“As we face issues from floods and natural disasters to an explosion of urban populations, soaring inequality and displacement through conflict, architecture seems wholly absent. So we wanted to look beyond the discussion of the aesthetics of Star-chitecture and see what architects outside the mainstream are doing.”
The six-part series, which starts on 18 August, begins with a film documenting the work of Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda, who uses his knowledge of planning law to occupy abandoned properties and to build structures on unused land.
It also features Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, who designs disaster relief shelters and Eyal Weizman, professor of spatial and visual cultures at Goldsmiths University, who explores the way the built environment is used as an instrument of occupation.
In Vietnam, the series follows Vo Trong Nghia, whose projects focus on open spaces and sustainable design, while in Nigeria, Kunlé Adeyemi has designed floating buildings to solve issues of flooding and overcrowding.
The final episode explores Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, with builder Ricardo de Oliveira, and master planner Luis Toledo.
“The rebel architects have to push boundaries, but they must also look beyond their own buildings,” said Davies. “They start by looking at the wider context in which they live – be it Spain hit by the financial crisis, or Pakistan ravaged by floods – and work out how they can change the status quo with architecture.”
I SAY …
Shouldn’t every Architect be concerned about the issues raised in Nick’s article ? And if not … why not ??
Architecture is a wide and complex field of human creative, artistic and scientific endeavour. Yet in the international and national media, both mainstream and architectural … it does appear, as presented, to be narrowly confined to the “aesthetics of huge iconic projects”, and “insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal”. And the various media continue to focus on and enthusiastically applaud the current, outrageous phallic skyscraper contest in, for example, the Arab Gulf Region, China and South-East Asia … a contest which is actively promoted by such international organizations as the US-based Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat. [ I might add … with entirely insufficient attention being paid to fire safety, resilience and sustainability in those Super-Tall Buildings !! ]
If Santiago Cirugeda, Yasmeen Lari, Eyal Weizman, Vo Trong Nghia, Kunlé Adeyemi, Ricardo de Oliveira, and Luis Toledo are indeed Rebels … [ I would argue that they most definitely are not ] … and each one is working in isolation … then we must urgently instigate a Revolution …
Creative Architecture In Context !!
PRINCIPAL BARRIER …
The Institutional Framework of Today’s Conventional Architecture … typically developed to promote and protect a 19th Century Model of Architectural Practice … exerts a powerful stranglehold over the architectural profession and the schools of architecture in many countries. It is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ in the 21st Century !
Here in Ireland … a few days before reading the Nick Ames article … I attended a long Extraordinary General Meeting of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) … called by 10 Institute Members to demand urgent, concerted action from the Institute’s Council in response to the new and very flawed Building Control Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instruments Nos.9 & 105 of 2014), which came into effect from 1 March 2014.
Far from being an enlightening and pleasurable occasion … for many small reasons, it was annoying and frustrating. The biggest reason of all, however, was that I saw no evidence whatever that either Council or the Membership understands the simple, fundamental truth that … self-regulation/self-certification does NOT work !
Refer back to my previous post.
The General Public in Ireland … also known as ‘The Long-Suffering Consumer’ … does not trust the Medical and Legal Professions to self-regulate, despite the vociferous protestations from both that their internal regulatory systems are packed-packed-packed with civilians. Yes … ‘selected’ civilians !
That particular evening in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin … the RIAI’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) went nowhere … aided and abetted by Council Members at the head table. It was interesting to note that none of the 10 Institute Members who had called the meeting had a seat at that same table.
As we exit the Profound Economic Crisis following the Extravagant Celtic Tiger Years … and coldly look around us … we witness an architectural profession lost in a contextual wilderness – urban, environmental and social – while fumbling around in a legal and political maze. And, every day, we experience a sprawling, ugly, depressing and unsustainable built environment which is engaged in a sad and brutal conflict with nature.
It has taken at least a generation … but the RIAI has directly overseen the slow and progressive dilution of what it means to be an Architect in Ireland.
Time for The Revolution … To The Barricades !!
2014-07-08: Why do individuals and institutions wake up to a problem only when extensive damage to property, or horrendous injury to people, has already occurred … and the shit hits the fan … big time ?!? What way is that to organize a society … or protect its communities ???
The Answer is Simple: Prevention ! Not Cure … when damage cannot be effectively repaired … some injuries can never be healed … and it becomes very costly to do anything !!
In Ireland … Part D of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, as amended, states the following …
Materials & Workmanship
Legal Requirement D1: All works to which these Regulations apply shall be carried out with proper materials and in a workmanlike (i.e. competent) manner.
Definition of ‘Proper Materials’
Proper Materials: Building/construction materials (or products, systems, assemblies, etc.) which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions/location in which they are to be used.
Reference European Union (EU) Legislation
EU Regulation No.305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2011, laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC.
[ N.B. The 1989 European Directive on Construction Products (89/106/EEC) was repealed, in 2011, by Article 65 of EU Regulation No.305/2011. ]
It is the duty of a Supplier … any Supplier, e.g. manufacturer, distributor, agent, wholesaler, whatever … of building/construction materials to clearly show that they are ‘proper materials’, i.e. they are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions/location in which they are to be used.
Refer to SDI’s Technical Guidance Notes … www.sustainable-design.ie/arch/tgn.htm
It is the duty of the Design Professional in Responsible Charge of a construction project (whoever he/she may be – architect, engineer, etc., etc.) to demand of a Supplier … additionally and most particularly, where there are any doubts about any relevant aspect of that material’s performance … that he/she/they clearly show that the building/construction materials they are supplying are ‘proper materials’, i.e. they are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions/location in which they are to be used.
When Pyrite, for example, shows up in the hardcore under a finished concrete floor, or in the blockwork of a completed wall, in an Irish building … we know who has ignored his or her legal/professional duty concerning proper and satisfactory compliance with Legal Requirement D1 … and who is liable.
For bureaucrats and the legal profession, this is the end of the story.
At this stage – when building occupants are hurt and extremely annoyed following, perhaps years, of inconvenience and discomfort – it’s too late ! The damage cannot be effectively repaired … and such limited repairs which can, in practical terms, be carried out will be very expensive.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM …
In Ireland, have we properly learned any lessons from Priory Hall, Pyrite, or Chinese Plasterboard ? No !
Could these or similar problems occur AGAIN on an Irish building site ? Yes !
Because … aided and abetted by the professional institutes … a ‘blind eye’ is being turned to the greatest lesson of all … that self-regulation/self-certification does NOT work !!
And Other E.U. Member States ???
The wording in national/local legislation may be slightly different … the language certainly will be different … but the legal intent is the same.
Legal/professional duties are similar.
Self-regulation/self-certification doesn’t work there either !
2014-05-16: Anybody with even the slightest interest in the Future Development of Fire Engineering Design, and Structural Fire Engineering in particular, should pay attention to the proceedings of an upcoming CIB/NIST Workshop, which will be held on 21-22 May 2014, at the NIST Campus in Maryland, USA …
It is essential to read 3 White Papers … produced by three separate teams of experts, contracted by NIST, in advance of the Workshop … to get a ‘real’ flavour of how discussions may, or may not, develop next week. All three papers are available to download from the NIST WebSite (and the links below). I suggest that you get your hands on them … ASAP !
1. Fire Behaviour of Steel Structures (March 2014). 20 Pages, 786 Kb.
2. State-of-the-Art on Fire Resistance of Concrete Structures: Structure-Fire Model Validation (March 2014). 32 Pages, 1.26 Mb.
3. Fire Resistance of Timber Structures (March 2014). 20 Pages, 998 Kb.
After reading these 3 NIST White Papers … I was not surprised by the large number of ‘unknowns’, or the enormous gaps in our ‘knowns’ …
Taken in whole and all together, however, the three documents are a public confirmation that today’s general practice of Fire Engineering is more akin to that of mid-19th Century Alchemy. Blinkered practitioners are isolated from the building design process … because they have no understanding of that process, and have no means of effective communication with the many other design disciplines involved. And minimal, i.e. ‘cost-effective'(?), compliance with the limited and inadequate fire safety objectives in current building codes/regulations is widely regarded as the one and only target for their efforts … a minor one compared to the fundamental, long-term target of realizing a Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All. At the same time, frontline fire service personnel are forced to operate on shoestring budgets … and, when a fire emergency inevitably occurs, they are regarded as nothing more than an expendable resource.
!! Structure … Does Not A Building Make !!
Some comments on the 3 NIST White Papers …
A. The Papers contain a number of important technical errors:
- A similar Introduction in two of the Papers refers only to the 2005 NIST Report (NCSTAR 1) on the 9-11 Collapse of WTC Buildings 1 & 2 in New York City, which contained 30 Recommendations. However, NIST published a later Report in 2008 (NCSTAR 1A) on the Collapse of WTC Building 7, which contained a further 13 Recommendations … 1 new, and 12 revised/updated from the earlier 2005 Report.
- There is a reference in one of the Papers to a 1989 European Directive on Construction Products (89/106/EEC), and as later amended. This Directive was repealed, in 2011, by Article 65 of the new European Union (EU) Regulation No.305/2011 on Construction Products. Unlike a Directive, a Regulation is addressed directly to the EU Member States, and does not permit any flexibility with regard to national implementation. Annex I of Regulation 305/2011 sets out 7 Basic Requirements for Construction Works:
- Mechanical resistance and stability ;
– Safety in case of fire ;
– Hygiene, health and the environment ;
– Safety and accessibility in use ;
– Protection against noise ;
– Energy economy and heat retention ;
– Sustainable use of natural resources.
Concerning fire safety in buildings … it is incorrect to state, or even suggest, that only the second Basic Requirement is relevant … a building must satisfy all of the Basic Requirements taken together, i.e. the 7 Basic Requirements are inter-dependent.
B. Having carefully read the Papers … none of the expert teams appear to have paid any attention to any of the NIST Recommendations, in either the 2005 or the 2008 Reports ! Note well that two separate series of posts on both sets of NIST Recommendations have been carried here on this Technical Blog.
C. If we have learned anything from the WTC 9-11 Building Collapses, it is that the Fire Engineer must be able to communicate effectively with other mainstream building design disciplines … especially ‘ambient’ structural engineers who speak the language of Structural Reliability, Limit State Design and Serviceability Limit States. The Fire Engineer must also become an active participant in the creative, trans-disciplinary process of design. These issues have not been seriously considered in any of the Papers.
D. All of the Papers lack a common and precise starting point … relevant structural fire engineering concepts are either not defined or badly defined … and the ‘dynamic, complex architectural interaction between a building’s structure and fabric under conditions of fire’ requires immediate and urgent investigation …
The ability of a structural system to fulfil its design purpose, for a specified time,
under the actual environmental conditions encountered in a building.
Structural Fire Engineering
Those aspects of fire engineering concerned with structural design for fire …
and the dynamic, complex architectural interaction between a building’s structure and
fabric, i.e. non-structure … under conditions of fire and its immediate aftermath,
including but not confined to the ‘cooling phase’.
Fire-Induced Progressive Damage
The sequential growth and intensification of structural deformation
and displacement, beyond fire engineering design parameters*, and the eventual failure
of elements of construction in a building – during a fire and the ‘cooling phase’
afterwards – which, if unchecked, will result in disproportionate damage,
and may lead to total building collapse.
[ *fire serviceability limit states ]
The failure of a building’s structural system:
(i) remote from the scene of an isolated overloading action ;
and (ii) to an extent which is not in reasonable proportion to that action.
[ Fire-Induced Progressive Damage and Disproportionate Damage are fundamental concepts in the Fire Engineering Design of All Buildings ! ]
E. It is not acknowledged in any of the Papers that the Fire Safety Objectives in Current Building Codes/Regulations are, of necessity, limited in scope … and entirely inadequate in the context of Annex I in EU Regulation 305/2011, and the long-term goal of realizing a Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All. Refer to the updated Scope, Aims & Objectives of CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’.
F. Once and for all … use of the term Fire Resistance (and any number of variations thereof, e.g. resistant, resisting, resistive, etc.) in connection with any aspect of structural performance in fire … is ridiculous ! It is roughly comparable to use of the term Fire Proof during the first half of the 20th Century.
G. Finally, for now … the current unwise focus on Crude Pass/Fail Results from the ‘standard fire’ testing of single loadbearing structural elements must evolve … must be transformed into the more detailed and precise measurement of all aspects of ‘real’ structural system performance over the full duration of a ‘design’ fire (including the cooling phase afterwards) … using a much wider range of performance monitoring equipment, e.g. short wave infra-red thermography.
It is no longer acceptable for Fire Engineering to exist in an isolated Twilight Zone … completely removed from the everyday realities of Mainstream Building & Construction.
2014-04-21: Notwithstanding the, by now, well-established existence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, a host of other national accessibility standards, and a plethora of accessibility design guidance materials … not every ‘real’ site, or building, or built environment, situation is covered. It would be physically impossible.
Unless it is fixed in your mind … or, more importantly, in the ‘group-thinking’ of an organization … that Accessibility-for-All should be, for example, both independent (i.e. it is not necessary for a person to have an assistant) and inclusive (i.e. friends can do things together and no special deal is made about accessibility for one person) … it can be very difficult to emerge from beneath the weight of those documents referred to above … and to apply important disability-related principles flexibly and adaptively in the real world.
At a recent meeting with some teachers in an Irish school (which shall remain nameless) … I advised that a very good and positive start can be made by discussing together and agreeing on a Disability Policy Statement, which will help to guide future actions. More steps are required, of course, but those will come later.
Model Disability Policy Statement for Educational Establishments
Insofar as it relates to the educational activities of
Name of School/College/University/Institute
and its relationships in the wider local community …
We recognise and respect the rights of people with activity limitations:
- to lead a fulfilling life – autonomously, independently, and with dignity ;
- to integrate into the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and educational mainstream ; and
- to participate in the general life of the wider local community on a basis of equal opportunity with everyone else.
Good Education is an Important Key to Social Inclusion
In order to ensure your autonomy and independence, your civil, political, economic, social, cultural and educational integration, and your active participation in the general life of the wider local community – the principle of equal opportunity shall not prevent the adoption or maintenance of services, systems and policies providing for your support or assistance within this establishment.
[ Discussed and Agreed by the School/College/University/Institute Management Board on …… ]
2014-04-20: Traditional/Conventional Fire Engineering Practice is slowly, but inevitably, being transformed … in order to meet the regional and local challenges of rapid urbanization and climate change, the pressing need for a far more efficient and resilient building stock, and a growing social awareness that ‘sustainability’ demands much greater human creativity …
Design Target: A Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All
Design Key Words: Reality – Reliability – Redundancy
Essential Construction & Occupancy Start-Up Processes: Careful Monitoring & Reporting – Independent Verification (MRV)
Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Solutions:
Are Reliability-Based …
The design process is based on competence, practical experience, and an understanding of ‘real’ building performance and resilience during Extreme Man-Made Events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 Attack & 2008 Mumbai Hive Attacks, and Hybrid Disasters, e.g. 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident … rather than theory alone.
Are Person-Centred …
‘Real’ people are placed at the centre of creative design endeavours and proper consideration is given to their responsible needs … their health, safety, welfare and security … in the Human Environment, which includes the social, built, economic and virtual environments.
Are Adapted to Local Context & Heritage * …
Geography, orientation, climate (including change, variability and severity swings), social need, culture, traditions, economy, building crafts and materials, etc., etc.
[* refer to the 2013 UNESCO Hangzhou Declaration]
In Sustainable Design … there are NO Universal Solutions !
To protect society, the best interests of the client/client organization and building user health and safety, and to maintain functionality under the dynamic, complex conditions of fire … Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives shall cover the following spectrum of issues …
- Protection of the Health and Safety of All Building Users … including people with activity limitations (2001 WHO ICF), visitors to the building who will be unfamiliar with its layout, and contractors or product/service suppliers temporarily engaged in work or business transactions on site ;
- Protection of Property from Loss or Damage … including the building, its contents, and adjoining or adjacent properties ;
- Safety of Firefighters, Rescue Teams and Other Emergency Response Personnel ;
- Ease and Reasonable Cost of ‘Effective’ Reconstruction, Refurbishment or Repair Works after a Fire ;
- Sustainability of the Human Environment – including the fitness for intended use and life cycle costing of fire engineering related products, systems, etc … fixed, installed or otherwise incorporated in the building ;
- Protection of the Natural Environment from Harm, i.e. adverse impacts.
More Specifically … with Regard to Resilient Building Performance during a Fire Incident and the ‘Cooling Phase’ after Fire Extinguishment:
1. The Building shall be designed to comply with the Recommendations in the 2005 & 2008 NIST(USA) Final Reports on the World Trade Center(WTC) 1, 2 & 7 Building Collapses.
In one major respect, the 2005 NIST Report is flawed, i.e. its treatment of ‘disability and building users with activity limitations is entirely inadequate. The Building shall, therefore, be designed to comply with International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, which was published in December 2011.
2. The Building shall remain Serviceable, not just Structurally Stable(!) … until all buildings users (including those users with activity limitations waiting in ‘areas of rescue assistance’) have been evacuated/rescued to an accessible ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building, and have been identified … and all firefighters, rescue teams and other emergency response personnel have been removed/rescued from the building and its vicinity.
The Building shall be designed to resist Fire-Induced Progressive Damage and Disproportionate Damage. These requirements shall apply to all building types, of any height.
Under no reasonably foreseeable circumstances shall the Building be permitted to collapse !
3. The Building shall be designed to comfortably accommodate and resist a Maximum Credible Fire Scenario and a Maximum Credible User Scenario.
Concerted International Research is Needed …
To creatively resolve the direct conflict which exists between Sustainable Building Design Strategies and Traditional/Conventional Fire Engineering.
An example … for cooling, heating and/or ventilation purposes in a sustainable building, it is necessary to take advantage of natural patterns of uninterrupted air movement in that building. On the other hand, fire consultants in private practice, and fire prevention officers in authorities having jurisdiction, will demand that building spaces be strictly compartmented in order to limit the spread of fire and smoke … thereby dramatically interfering with those natural patterns of air movement. The result is that the sustainability performance of the building is seriously compromised.
If, however, adequate independent technical control is absent on the site of a sustainable building … it is the fire safety and protection which will be seriously compromised !
To effectively deal with the fire safety problems (fatal, in the case of firefighters) which result from the installation of Innovative Building/Energy/EICT Systems and Products in Sustainable Buildings.
These are appropriate tasks for a new CIB W14 Research Working Group VI: ‘Sustainable Fire Engineering Design & Construction’ !
2014-02-07: Another year, and here we go again ! Except this time around … the bullshit, hot air and ‘blah-blah-blah’ must end !! Certainly here, and at every other opportunity as well … I will demand to hear far less talk, but to see a lot more effective action on this important issue of human and social rights !!!
Just before Christmas (2013), I received a personal invitation to attend the Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All, which will take place in a few weeks time on 27 & 28 February … at the United Nations Offices in Vienna (one of my favourite cities), Austria. You can read all the details about the conference here: http://zeroproject.org/conference/ The following is my polite and restrained reply to that invitation, dated 14 January 2014 …
RE: 2014 Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All
To Whom It May Concern,
Thank you very much for your invitation to attend the upcoming Zero Project Conference on ‘Accessibility’ … but, having carefully examined the Draft Conference Programme, I must decline … and will not be attending.
Concerning Accessibility for All … the biggest problem within the European Accessibility Community is that we are all talk and no action. The shameful reality is that the Human Environment (including the social – built – virtual – economic environments) remains emphatically inaccessible throughout Europe and far beyond !
Even though the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is in place, ratified by the European Union and many of the EU Member States … and International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment’ has been fully adopted … the first conference session is still asking the basic question “What is Accessibility ?”
Instead of a detailed examination of how the elaborate Accessibility Agenda contained in Articles 9, 11 and 19 of the UN CRPD can be properly and satisfactorily implemented, in an independently monitored (Art. 33), harmonized and culturally-sensitive manner across the globe … you will be presenting an ‘Access’ Beauty Pageant. Istanbul, a beautiful city with which I am very familiar, is only at the earliest stages of awareness about accessibility … and the recently published Hong Kong Fire Safety Code completely ignores fire safety for building occupants with disabilities ! Ireland is determined to delay ratification of the UN CRPD for as long as possible, and will refuse to ratify the Convention’s Optional Protocol … and I also know that implementation of the CRPD is meeting stiff resistance within the Institutions of the European Union.
Sustainable Development and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) receive no attention in the Zero Project Conference Programme … even though it took a lot of effort to ensure that the innovative and forward-looking Preamble Paragraph (g) was incorporated in the Convention. Within the rapidly evolving SDG drafting process, it is still not properly understood why and how Accessibility for All is a fundamental attribute of a Sustainable and Resilient Human Environment.
Concerning Mainstreaming … I describe a typical ‘real’ situation on our Technical Blog ( www.cjwalsh.ie/2012/11/new-legal-normative-environment-for-accessibility-in-europe/ ) … but this constant annoying struggle, and discussion on finding common approaches to its successful resolution, are absent from the Programme.
For us, attendance at the 2014 Zero Project Conference would be a waste of scarce organization resources. For Europe, however, the Conference represents a much greater waste … a magnificent opportunity missed !
C. J. Walsh, B Arch FRIAI MIBCI MIFS MIFireE – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller.
- Member, CIB Task Group 87: ‘Urban Resilience – Benchmarking & Metrics’.
- Member, CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’.
- Chair, CIB W14 Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’.
- Member, CIB Working Commission 108: ‘Climate Change & the Built Environment’.
- Member, EU Expert Working Group on Urban Environment Research.
- Member, EU EYPD Expert Group on Accessibility.
Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. (Ireland & Italy) and Sürdürülebilir Tasarım Tic.Ltd.Şti. (Turkey).
This 2014 Zero Project Conference on Accessibility for All is divorced from Reality … and the Real Needs of many vulnerable people in all of our communities !
Without an Effectively Accessible Human Environment (including the social, built, virtual and economic environments) … access to many other human and social rights, e.g. education, housing, medicine, voting, etc., is prevented and unjustly barred.
Building Accessibility has been clearly specified in the new International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’ as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
Two days ago, on the 12th Anniversary of the 9-11 World Trade Center Attacks in New York City … I couldn’t help recalling a period of time 20 years earlier, and the still vivid memories of institutional ‘after-shocks’ following the 1981 Dublin Stardust Discotheque Fire in February of that year. For a very long time afterwards, the Irish Fire Establishment disappeared from public view and hearing … without any trace ! As a young architect, at the time, just starting out in private practice … it was a critical lesson on the importance of ‘reality’ … and the malignancy of ‘realpolitik’.
As the years rolled by, and more and more information was revealed by troubled ‘insiders’ and uncovered by brave journalists … it was clear to me that the Dublin Fire had spawned two entirely separate and unconnected realities:
- The Frontline Tragedy … of the fire victims (those who were killed or injured on the night, and those who survived), their families and (to this day) their mournful pleas for justice and truthful answers, the local communities, the first responders, e.g. firefighters, ambulance personnel, and Garda/police and (to this day) their continuing struggle for adequate resources, the staff of the Dublin hospitals … and a shocked public.
- Defensive Institutions … senior policy and decision makers in national and local authorities, or agencies, having jurisdiction and/or responsibility for blatantly inadequate building codes and standards, poorly resourced technical control systems over building design and construction, and a dysfunctional emergency response infrastructure … senior politicians, on both sides of the political spectrum, who ‘fixed’ the format and major outcomes from the post-incident investigation (they ensured that minor outcomes were either implemented in a ham-fisted bureaucratic manner, or were ignored) … the various building design disciplines directly involved and their respective professional organizations … etc., etc.
These Same Realities have been re-born … and have evolved in scale … out of the savage destruction on that Tuesday, 11 September 2001.
- Japan in April and May 2010 … Accessibility-for-All ! on
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
- Spectacular Dawn over Amandola (FM), in Italy – 28 April 2013 ! on
- Health & Safety at a Construction Site in Osaka, Japan on
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