Not only do we have significant amounts of in-house experience preparing fire reports for more conventional buildings (such as residential, warehousing, commercial and retail spaces), we have also completed a rich range of fire safety designs for specialist use buildings. These include such buildings as wastewater pumping stations, paint spray booths and grit blasting booths, indoor sports and amusement centres, chemical processing plants and theatres.
When it comes to fire safety design, early engagement is of utmost importance, and we can help you assess your preliminary design documents and advise on any significant design changes you may want to make to ensure the Consenting process is as pain free as possible.
We also pride ourselves on ‘going the extra mile’ to make sure that the design documentation generated by all disciplines correctly conveys the fire safety design aspects, therefore avoiding costly reworks and ‘design on the fly’ solutions during construction.
To demonstrate compliance, and complete the fire safety design of more complex buildings that don’t fit within the scope of the ‘Acceptable Solution’ documents, we have extensive experience using several advanced modelling tools such as Fire Dynamics Simulator, Pathfinder evacuation modelling and radiation modelling. With the use of these tools, two other compliance pathways are open to us, the C/VM2 Verification Method and ‘Alternative Solutions’ through specific engineering design.
The assessment of existing buildings, in many ways, can be more challenging than designing a new building. When making modifications to an existing building which requires a Building Consent, the Building Act requires various fire safety aspects of the building to be brought into compliance ‘as near as is reasonably practicable’ with the current Building Code requirements, including the accessibility features of the building which must be considered and upgraded, something which we have the experience to include within our design report.
These additional costs quite often come as a surprise to the design team and/or building owner and can make for a very stressful Consenting process, cause further delays and potentially blow out the project budget. It is therefore important to have a fire engineer on board who can carefully and simply explain the process to all the stakeholders and why these extra improvements are required, as well as assess those which are not reasonably practicable, and make this argument to the Consenting Authority, potentially saving costs.
Over the past decades, we have assisted many clients with their alterations, and our fire engineers have the experience to make a full and comprehensive assessment of the building’s shortcomings and assess those which are likely to be deemed ‘reasonably practicable’ by the Consenting Authority.
Now you have your Consent and construction has begun – congratulations! Construction Monitoring is a vital service which gives the building owner an independent verification that the construction work is being completed in accordance with the Consent requirements, avoiding costly reworks and delays and, most importantly, ensuring the building occupants are going to be safe in a fire. Even if the Consenting Authority has not requested a PS4 (Construction Monitoring Producer Statement), we advise all our clients to engage a fire engineer for this purpose.
The involvement of an experienced fire engineer to observe the construction is also important to ensure that:
The design documentation is being correctly interpreted
The construction quality is sufficient to not reduce effectiveness or safety of the design
Any unforeseen issues or undocumented design details can be addressed and solutions provided that comply with the requirements
We have many years’ construction monitoring experience and over this time we have developed our own internal systems for recording and reporting defects that we find so that a detailed, informative report can be submitted. Our agility and responsiveness means we can solve problems that arise on site quickly, saving your project time and money.
When engaged to conduct Construction Monitoring services for a fire safety design which we have not completed, we take the time before turning up to site, to thoroughly assess the Consented design documentation. In our experience, this quite often reveals design details which are non-compliant or can be revised to improve buildability and/or decrease costs. It’s also at this stage we can address passive fire issues which may not have been designed or considered.
Hazardous Substances & Alternative Solutions
As a result of decades working in the industrial sector (as mechanical engineers), when we started specialising in fire engineering we found ourselves also working in the niche area of hazardous substances and fire safety compliance. The normal NZ Building Code compliance pathways (Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods) specifically exclude buildings which store or use hazardous substances, therefore particular specialist knowledge and experience is required to prepare an ‘Alternative Solution’ fire safety design. Our clients in this area of work include well known brands such as CRC, Dulux and Ecolab, as well as other specialist plants for charging aerosol cans or extracting pharmaceutical ingredients.