Fire disasters can hit buildings for many reasons from poor fire protection planning and use of combustible materials installed in a pre-regulatory period to wear and tear, and poor maintenance. Whatever be the reason, building fires can cause loss of life, destroy assets and damage property value.

Unfortunately, fire accidents are quite common: A report from the Parliament of Australia reveals that in 2013-2014, Australian fire agencies attended 101,867 fire related incidents including 19,524 (19%) involving structural fires. Property damage computed in the same period was estimated to be at $700 million based on the insurance claims data provided by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities.

Protecting your structure from fire

Building fires destroy lives and property, and it’s difficult for anyone to recover from one. However, with the right fire safety strategy in place, building owners can prevent such disasters. These strategies can be developed and implemented even before construction begins on a new building, or during upgrade works on old structures.

Good construction practice takes into account measures that are designed to safeguard the building when a fire does break out. Fire engineers are responsible for developing design specifications that will mitigate the overall impact during a fire.

What is fire engineering?

Under the International Standards Organisation’s definition, fire safety engineering is described as “the application of engineering principles, rules and expert judgement based on a scientific appreciation of the fire phenomena, of the effects of fire, and the reaction and behaviour of people, in order to: save life, protect property and preserve the environment and heritage; quantify the hazards and risk of fire and its effects; and evaluate analytically the optimum protective and preventative measures necessary to limit, within prescribed levels, the consequences of fire.”

In other words, fire engineers are experts in identifying potential risks and prescribing measures, which can be taken to reduce the impact and severity into the future. By requirement, therefore, this specialised field of engineering requires an understanding of: how various materials ignite, how fires develop, how structures react to fire, how different building materials will fare in a fire scenario, architectural specifications, what preventative measures are available for use and the advantages of ‘fire proof’ products, and how to work within the Building Code of Australia to ensure the highest levels of safety.

Fire engineering is a complex field necessitating the application of science, technology, engineering, management, psychology, and even law. It is a multi-disciplinary field that only qualified engineers can successfully plan, implement, and monitor.

Importance of fire engineering

When your business centres on the management or ownership of large structures and buildings, fire engineering can ensure your building is compliant with BCA’s fire safety provisions. Fire safety engineering can protect your building during a fire; prepare building occupants and emergency services personnel; mitigate property damage, including structural, equipment, fabric, and building contents damage; avoid compromising business operations and financial viability of your organisation; and limit the emission of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

Hiring a qualified fire safety engineering expert

Similar to how any specialised field needs the expertise of a trained professional, fire engineering too demands the services of a true expert who knows the intricacies of fire safety to develop a comprehensive plan.

Speak to one of the experts at Permax to receive correct guidance and ensure the highest level of fire safety compliance possible for your building.