"Safeguarding Tomorrow: Elevate Building Safety with Cutting-Edge Software and QR Technology."

FireIE: The Ultimate Solution for Fire Safety Management in Complex Buildings

Fire safety is a critical concern for any organisation, especially complex structures such as high-rises, industrial facilities, and multi-use complexes. 1 2 Ensuring the protection of lives and property from the devastating impact of fires requires a comprehensive and robust fire safety management system. 1 4 This is where FireIE emerges as a groundbreaking platform, offering a solution tailored for facilities managers, fire risk assessors and those responsible for fire safety management of high rise buildings and industrial sites.

FireIE.uk consolidates critical digital information from multiple systems and sources, allowing users to share, contribute and access crucial data that is required to maintain building safety. This innovative platform enables the visualisation of the building design though advanced LiDAR scanning technology that allows asset owners to view the structure and building layout, helping the creation of emergency evacuation action plans, risk assessments, and desktop risk analysis based on HAZID, HAZOP and HAZAN methodologies. Furthermore, FireIE facilitates compliance with regulations like the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Building Safety Act, DSEAR and COMAH and aligns with other regulatory compliance.

The Evolution of Fire Safety Systems

Historical Overview

The evolution of firefighting and fire safety practices demonstrates a continued dedication to protecting lives and properties. In ancient Rome, groups known as “bucket brigades” would pass water using their hands to extinguish flames, while the ancient Greeks used large sponges to soak up water. 5 As populations grew and buildings became more combustible during the Industrial Revolution, the demand for fire insurance companies increased to manage fire risks, leading to the formation of official fire insurance companies in the late 17th century. 5

The 19th century marked a pivotal period, with the introduction of steam-powered fire engines and fire hydrant systems, allowing firefighters to transport water more efficiently. 5 Fire stations also installed telegraph systems for quicker emergency response. 5 The Great Fire of London in 1666 prompted significant changes in fire safety regulations, including the creation of building codes to improve fire resistance and monitor materials and safety measures. 5

The 20th century saw a shift towards formalizing fire safety regulations and legislation. The Fire Precautions Act of 1971 introduced a structured approach to fire safety in UK workplaces and public buildings, requiring risk assessments, evacuation plans, and designated responsible individuals. 5 Technological advancements, such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire-resistant materials, became integral components of modern building design for early fire detection and suppression. 5

Current Standards and Protocols

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) is the main legislation governing fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. 8 It applies to all workplaces and the common parts of buildings containing two or more domestic premises, placing legal duties on the responsible person (usually the owner or landlord) to undertake and record a fire risk assessment and implement general fire precautions. 8

The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarified that external walls, flat entrance doors, and building structures are covered by the FSO and must be accounted for in fire risk assessments. 8 The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and section 156 of the Building Safety Act introduced additional duties for responsible persons under the Fire Safety Order. 8

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 implemented recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s Phase 1 report, requiring changes in the law to improve fire safety in blocks of flats. 7 For high-rise residential buildings (at least 18 meters or 7+ storeys), responsible persons must share information about the building’s external wall system with local fire and rescue services, provide electronic floor and building plans, install wayfinding signage, conduct regular checks on firefighting equipment, and inform the fire service if equipment is out of order. 7 For multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 meters, responsible persons must conduct regular checks on communal and flat entrance doors and provide residents with fire safety instructions. 7

FireIE’s Technical Specifications

System Architecture

FIREie data is required to be exchanged during all stages of an asset life cycle. 12 The British Standard states that “FIREie resembles but is not the same as the COBie information schema as documented in the UK BIM Framework”. 12 While COBie is used for the exchange of data related to components that have planned preventative maintenance, FIREie is meant for the exchange of data related to fire safety components and fire risks identified in the buildings fire risk assessment. 12 There is an overlap as many maintainable assets are also fire safety assets (e.g., fire doors, sprinklers, fire extinguishers), but not all fire protection elements are ‘maintainable’ (e.g., fire-rated partitions and walls) and should be included in FIREie. 12

Additionally, building elements that are not active or passive fire safety elements but could compromise structural integrity if exposed to fire (e.g., steel load-bearing columns, braces, and beams) are considered for inclusion in FIREie. 12 This data availability is crucial for emergency services to develop and implement safe and effective tactical plans during an emergency response in complex industrial buildings that may contain high amounts of flammables or explosive atmospheres12

Data Handling Capabilities

This section states that “FIREie should be used to collect, collate and digitally transfer information and linked documents between lead appointed parties and appointing parties”. 11 It is expected that FIREie will be most commonly viewed in spreadsheet rendition, with XML and IFC renditions also mentioned. 11 However, no technical information is currently published about how FIREie supports or works with open data formats other than a passing reference to IFC. 11

The section also states that “FIREie exists to exchange structured information between interested parties and stakeholders in the life cycle of an asset”. 11 In contrast, COBie primarily has a single exchange between the Contractor and the Client at the handover stage, although earlier exchanges often exist to check progress. 11 The statement alludes to ‘multiple exchanges’ but provides no information on the specific purposes for these multiple exchanges, making it difficult to determine if FIREie will satisfy its intended purpose. 11

Additionally, the section suggests that “Fire safety information, whether geometrical or data, should follow a consistent approach across all parties to improve the fire safety information exchange”. 11 To align with ISO 19650 and BS EN 17412-1:2020 (Building Information Modelling — Level of Information Need), it is recommended that “geometrical or data” be changed to “documentation, geometrical and alphanumerical information”. 11

Comparative Analysis with Other Systems

FireIE.UK stands out as a comprehensive fire risk management platform that offers several advantages over traditional methods. Here are some key differences and advantages of FireIE.UK:

Key Differences

  1. Real-Time Risk Monitoring: Unlike traditional methods, FireIE.UK allows organisations to monitor and manage fire risks in real-time through dashboard reporting and alerts. 1
  2. Compliance with International Standards: FireIE.UK aligns with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, and ISO 22301, ensuring that the fire safety management system meets the highest international standards. 3
  3. Robust Fire Safety Strategy: With FireIE.UK, organisations can demonstrate a proactive and effective fire risk management strategy during audits, providing tangible evidence of their approach. 4
  4. Centralised Management: FireIE.UK enables organisations to manage all their fire safety data, documents, and critical supplier competence in one centralised platform, making it easier to oversee multiple properties. 7 5
  5. Automated Reporting and Updates: The platform generates comprehensive reports and notifications for audits and weekly inspections, while also providing real-time updates on the latest fire safety regulations based on PAS79 standards. 8 9
  6. User-Friendly Interface: FireIE.UK features an intuitive dashboard design, making it easy for users to navigate and access the platform’s features and integrate other systems through API’s. [10]
  7. COMAH and DSEAR Management: FireIE.UK offers tools to manage COMAH and DSEAR regulations, allowing organisations to conduct risk assessments and maintain compliance. 12

Advantages of FireIE

  1. Dynamic Risk Management: FireIE.UK is designed to manage risks dynamically, offering a comprehensive solution for organisations responsible for fire safety management across multiple buildings. 1
  2. Proactive Approach: By adopting the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology, FireIE.UK helps building owners not only meet legal requirements but also exceed them through a systematic approach to managing building fire safety risks and promoting continuous improvement. 7
  3. Comprehensive Risk Assessment: FireIE.UK allows teams to conduct HAZID-based risk assessments, considering various scenarios, such as block, floor, floor-to-floor, and residential unit-specific risks, including electrical hazards, intentional ignition (arson) and major incidents or accidents.
  4. Emergency Preparedness: Organisations can evaluate the effectiveness of their emergency procedures and consider “what-if” scenarios through the building systems risk section of the FireIE platform and comply under the civil contingencies act 2004
  5. Regulatory Compliance: FireIE helps organisations demonstrate compliance with regulations like the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Building Safety Act, following the recommendations of the golden thread report from Dame Judith Hackett.
  6. Stakeholder Collaboration: FireIE brings together all building stakeholders, including fire authorities, contractors, insurers, fire risk assessors, and asset owners/occupiers, providing a single platform for a comprehensive view of fire safety.
  7. Asset Management: FireIE enables users to visualise fire safety and critical assets using QR codes, facilitating inspections, weekly fire audits, and call point/emergency lighting testing. 6 

Potential Industry Impact

Fires present a significant risk to businesses, with potential consequences ranging from property damage and stock loss to legal liabilities and reputational harm. 19 Smoke inhalation can cause severe lung damage, unconsciousness, and long-term health effects, posing a grave threat to employees and customers alike. 19

A fire resulting in injury or death can have severe legal and financial repercussions for business owners and managers responsible for safety. 19 Failure to comply with fire safety legislation and recommendations can invalidate insurance claims, leading to substantial repair costs and potentially forcing businesses to cease operations. 19

Moreover, data loss due to fire can cripple a business’s ability to function, while intangible factors like customer loyalty and brand reputation can be challenging to recover. 19 Fires can also damage surrounding properties, vegetation, and infrastructure, compounding the overall impact. 19

To mitigate these risks, a comprehensive fire safety strategy is essential, starting with a thorough fire risk assessment. 19 Businesses must provide fire safety training for new employees, regularly inspect workspaces for potential hazards, and maintain clear evacuation routes and emergency exits. 19 Collaborating with local fire departments, obtaining necessary permits, and conducting regular fire drills are also crucial steps. 19

In the event of a fire, prompt evacuation, alerting emergency services, and following established protocols are vital for minimising harm and ensuring a safe response. 19 Failure to meet legal duties regarding fire safety can result in fines and potential imprisonment, underscoring the importance of a proactive and comprehensive approach. 19

Conclusion

The additional instruction provided highlights FireIE’s unique capabilities as a comprehensive platform that allows users to share and access digital information related to building safety. It emphasises the consolidation of data from multiple systems, visualisation of recommendations, risk assessments, emergency procedure evaluations, DSEAR and COMAH management, and stakeholder collaboration. Moreover, it underscores FireIE’s alignment with international standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 45001, as well as its adherence to regulations like the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Building Safety Act. Since this instruction highlights key features and advantages of FireIE, it is relevant and should be incorporated into the conclusion section.

In light of the additional instruction.

“FireIE emerges as a groundbreaking platform that revolutionises fire risk management and building safety practices. By consolidating digital information from multiple systems, FireIE enables users to share and access crucial data for the building safety case”.

Marcus Phillips – Incident Commander LFB (Retired)

This innovative platform empowers organisations to visualize fire and structural recommendations, create action plans, conduct HAZID-based risk assessments, and evaluate the effectiveness of emergency procedures. FireIE’s robust framework aligns with international standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 45001, ensuring a systematic approach to managing fire risks and promoting continuous improvement.

Moreover, FireIE facilitates compliance with regulations such as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Building Safety Act, adhering to the recommendations of the golden thread report from Dame Judith Hackett.

The platform brings together all building stakeholders, including fire authorities, contractors, insurers, fire risk assessors, and asset owners, providing a comprehensive 360-degree view of fire safety on a single platform. With its unique capabilities, FireIE emerges as the ultimate solution for managing building fire safety, enabling those responsible to mitigate risks, enhance preparedness, and ensure the protection of lives and property.

FAQs

1. What exactly is FIREie?
FIREie is a new digital network designed for the exchange of fire safety information. It serves as a platform to provide additional fire safety details and facilitate information sharing.

2. How does FIREie differ from COBie?
COBie focuses on the data exchange concerning building components requiring planned preventative maintenance. In contrast, FIREie specifically targets the exchange of data related to fire safety components within buildings.

3. Can you explain what BS 8644 entails?
BS 8644-1:2022 outlines the digital management of fire safety information, encompassing the stages of design, construction, handover, asset management, and emergency response.

4. What fire safety regulations must be followed in apartment blocks?
For residential buildings taller than 11 metres, it is mandatory for the designated responsible persons to conduct annual inspections of flat entrance doors and quarterly inspections of all fire doors located in common areas.

References

[1] – https://www.theknowledgeacademy.com/blog/fire-safety-systems/
[2] – https://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/fire-safety.htm
[3] – https://www.bondbryandigital.co.uk/technical-review-of-fireie/
[4] – https://cohesivegroup.com/implementation-of-bs8644-1-for-digital-fire-safety-information-management/
[5] – https://www.cityfire.co.uk/news/history-of-firefighting-and-fire-safety/
[6] – https://www.firesafe.org.uk/history-of-fire-safety-legislation/
[7] – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-england-regulations-2022
[8] – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fire-safety-legislation-guidance-for-those-with-legal-duties
[9] – https://cohesivegroup.com/implementation-of-bs8644-1-for-digital-fire-safety-information-management/
[11] – https://www.bondbryandigital.co.uk/technical-review-of-fireie/
[12] – https://cohesivegroup.com/implementation-of-bs8644-1-for-digital-fire-safety-information-management/
[13] – https://www.bondbryandigital.co.uk/technical-review-of-fireie/
[15] – https://assettagged.com/dynamic-fire-safety-management-fireie-uk/
[16] – https://cohesivegroup.com/implementation-of-bs8644-1-for-digital-fire-safety-information-management/
[17] – https://www.earth.com/news/new-research-enhances-predictions-on-volcanic-eruptions/
[18] – https://nfcc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/Technical_review_of_ADB_-_1_March_2019_-_FINAL.pdf
[19] – https://isefireproducts.co.uk/what-are-the-effects-of-fire-in-the-workplace/
[20] – https://safetyculture.com/topics/fire-safety/
[21] – https://firesafetypartnership.co.uk/the-importance-of-fire-risk-assessments-for-complex-buildings/
[22] – https://cohesivegroup.com/implementation-of-bs8644-1-for-digital-fire-safety-information-management/

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