Here at PRE, we know that each property we survey should assessed holistically and in entirety in order to fully understand how all the fire engineering principles work together, as opposed to in isolation. The sensible starting point prior to our site surveys is to identify the fire strategy for the property followed by the establishment of fire detection and warning systems.
For high-rise residential properties in particular, this may involve an ‘evacuation’ or ‘stay put’ policy, the latter of which has seen huge scrutiny following Grenfell. Although as we know, other deficiencies (such as cladding mentioned above), could be considered to have compromised this policy, which is why it is important to assess holistically, as mentioned. As we approach an era where ‘vertical village living’ may become more popular (especially with the demand for housing), its important that fire strategy is carefully considered.
A Building Surveyor should also have a good understanding of the occupation densities, protected means of escape, emergency lighting and signage for the property they are inspecting.
In line with AD B, the height of the building should be assessed to establish whether it is more than 18 metres in height and whether the building is clad with any combustible material, such as rainscreen cladding (which may be able to be identified upon review of the as built documentation). In some cases, the suspected cladding may require testing if any information is not available.