Is risk-informed fire safety design coming?

Jacobsen Analytics' experts were invited by British Standards Institution (BSI) to support the preparation of a new document, titled "Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings".

The document discusses the implementation of both deterministic and probabilistic methods to fire safety analysis during the building design process. Jacobsen Analytics experts contributed to the "Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA)" section adding information on internationally accepted methods and tools employed in Fire PRA. The main purpose of this document is to provide guidance and recommendations regarding the process, models and data that can be used in order to apply probabilistic methods in the design of buildings. Although fire safety in buildings is usually demonstrated by means of deterministic calculations, there may, nevertheless, be situations where the explicit calculation of risk using PRA may be necessary to demonstrate acceptability or may be able to demonstrate that the risk to the public using the design is as low as reasonable practical (ALARP).

By way of an example, a strength of PRA is the capability to generate a ranking of design alternatives, starting with the alternative having the lowest risk to the public and ending with the alternative having the highest risk. This may be of value in situations where no overall safety preference could be identified through a deterministic analysis. Such a process would enable a better-informed appraisal of options.

While contributing to this document Jacobsen Analytics demonstrated that the methods and tools which are typically applied in the nuclear safety field, can be successfully and practically applied to the design of buildings.

The document is expected to be published in 2018. The document will not be a mandatory requirement, but it is, nevertheless, expected to provide designers and fire safety engineers with a wider range of analytical tools.