Study finds architects ‘lack’ knowledge of fire protection

Study finds architects ‘lack’ knowledge of fire protection

THE STUDY undertaken by Zeroignition found that 92% of UK architects ‘are unable to define key building fire protection terms’.

Roofing, Cladding and Insulation Magazine reported on the study from the fire retardant technology firm, which surveyed architects and specifiers about their understanding of four common terms that relate to buildings and fire. These included active fire protection, passive fire protection, fire resistance and reaction to fire, with only 8% of those surveyed able to ‘correctly define’ the four ‘basic’ terms.

Over one in three, or 35%, were ‘unable to correctly define’ active fire protection, which the company notes means ‘systems which protect structures and people including sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers [and] smoke alarms’. However, when asked about fire protection options considered for projects, smoke alarms were named by 38% and sprinklers by 33%.

For passive fire protection, defined as systems where ‘spread of fire is slowed or contained through the use of fire-resistant walls, floors and doors’ among other products, ‘just over half’ or 52% were unable to accurately define the term, but 54% were able to cite fire doors ‘as a consideration’ as part of a passive approach. Other passive technologies cited included flame retardant materials such as firewall, by 29%, plasterboard – by 21% - and plywood or OSB (oriented strand board), by 8%.

With reaction to fire, 58% of architects surveyed were unable to explain that it meant ‘methods designed to help people escape from fire’, while 71% or ‘almost three quarters’ could not define fire resistance, defined by the company as a ‘set of products that prevent fire spreading to other parts of the structure’. None surveyed said they had received ‘comprehensive’ fire protection training, and even though most had received some form of training, 8% said they had not been trained at all.

Ian King chief operating officer of Zeroignition, stated: ‘Architects are responsible for designing safe buildings. There’s clearly a lack of understanding as to the fire basics which is worrying to say the least. Architects, their employers and the professional bodies need to invest in ensuring this knowledge is bedded in.’