FIRE PROTECTION STRATEGYAcademic BuildingDetection and Warning SystemsSummary of the BuildingThe Academic Building, owned and run by an independent institution, is designed similar to a considerably spacious atrium with balcony access on upper levels. It has a basement, ground floor, and three other higher level floors. The overall dimension of the building is around 46x25 metres and a ground floor footprint of about 780 metre square. It has several common areas which are linked by a number of voids rising from ground floor to the 3rd floor. The new Academic Building will offer various facilities such as lecture theatre, classrooms, cafe and dining facilities, flexible group workspace, science laboratory, facilities for IT, and offices for staff.
Inside the University campus, the Academic Building will be located between two existing neighbouring building such as the History Building to the north and the Arts Building to the South. Although the Academic Building is a modern building that will house a considerable number of students and staff, the University management is looking for a way to minimise the cost of fire protection system and does not want to make alterations to neighbouring buildings such as linking fire alarm systems etc.
Detection and Warning SystemsSmoke alarms or automatic fire detection and alarm systems can greatly increase the safety of occupants in a building simply because it can an early warning of fire (Communities and Local Government 2000, p. 18). Generally, these fire alarms should be installed in places where it can effectively warn people of any fire such as circulation spaces, sleeping spaces, and places where the likelihood of fire occurrence is high. These places may be the kitchen, the living rooms, and those that contain a significant amount of highly combustible materials.
However, detection systems such as smoke alarms should be installed directly above heating or ventilating equipments and places where steam, condensation, or fumes can trigger a false alarm like the kitchen, bathrooms, and garages. Moreover, it should not be fitted in places where temperature gets very hot such as a boiler room or cold store (Communities and Local Government 2000, p. 19). Selecting and installing detection and warning systems in a building depend on the type of occupancy and evacuation or means of escape strategy.
For instance, when the means of escape strategy is based on simultaneous evacuation, a staged alarm system may not be appropriate since manual call point or fire detector can give a faster and immediate warning. Stage alarms work best in phased evacuation since enables two or more stages of alarm (alert or evacuate) in a particular location (Communities and Local Government 2000, p. 20). Selecting the right detection and alarm system varies from one building to another thus guidance provided by different standards should be referred to before installing any device.
For instance, guidance for automatic fire detection may found in BS 5839-1:2002 which also include guidance for installation, commissioning, and maintenance of these devices. Moreover, it can also provide knowledge about the different categories of the systems which include category L, M, and P. L is a detection and warning system specifically for protection of life while M is for manual alarm systems and P is for protection of property. The L category, which is a common preference in buildings with considerable number of occupants that needs to warned, the category is divided into several distinct group such as L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5 systems.
Although most of them generally functions as an early warning device, they are required to be installed in specific parts of the building. For instance, L2 systems need to be installed in specific parts of the building where it is designed for while L3 systems are commonly installed to give warning to all people other than those located in the origin of fire. Similarly, the L4 systems should be installed along the escape routes, circulation areas or spaces such as stairways, corridors, and other areas that may be assigned (Communities and Local Government 2000, p. 20).