Revised British Standard for fire safety engineering published

BSI, the business improvement company, has significantly revised the 2001 edition of the original British Standard for fire safety engineering, BS 7974, and has published a new version entitled BS 7974:2019 - Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings.

The original BS 7974 was published in 2001, but has been supplemented by a series of later guidance documents – PD 7974-1 to 8, covering each sub-system of application in greater detail. These cover topics ranging from ‘Initiation and development of fire within the enclosure of origin’, to ‘Structural response and fire spread beyond the enclosure of origin’. BSI says it has updated the existing guidance framework due to ‘major changes’ since 2001 within the fire and construction industry sector, working practices, and the regulatory framework, as well as new research.

The principal changes include:

  • the incorporation of recommendations previously contained in PD 7974-0:2002 and PD 7974-8:2012;

  • a greater emphasis on the competence of the fire safety engineer;

  • additional recommendations for the quality assurance and verification of fire safety engineering reports.

  • the terminology has been simplified and consolidated. The underlying process of fire safety engineering based on the qualitative design review has not changed, but every effort has been made to ensure that the terms used to describe that process are consistent throughout the standard.

BSI adds that the revised fire engineering standard ‘sets out a reporting methodology which allows for a design to be readily assessed by approval bodies’. It is intended to facilitate the practice of fire safety engineering, and in particular to:

  • provide the designer with a disciplined approach to fire safety design;

  • allow the safety levels for alternative designs to be compared;

  • provide a basis for selection of appropriate fire protection systems;

  • provide opportunities for innovative design;

  • provide information and assessment methods to support the design, construction, management, and operation of buildings.

Ant Burd, head of Built Environment at BSI, said: “As the demand for better and more innovative building design grows, the safety and protection of people, along with the asset itself, from fire remains of paramount importance. Based upon scientific and engineering insight, this framework allows for a range of alternative and complementary fire protection strategies that enable all of the design objectives to still be fulfilled safely.”