Fire Protection Engineering

Of all the responsibilities facing the property industry, keeping people safe from the dangers of fire and smoke is among the greatest. Part science and technology, part psychology, part management and law, this field requires rigorous mastery of all aspects of emergency planning, fire protection engineering, security system design and building and fire codes, while also ensuring clients realize their architectural vision and operational goals while meeting their responsibilities.

Efficient Delivery: Connectivity, Collaboration & Diversity

WSP’s fire engineering community consists of 250 experts worldwide who work in close collaboration, sharing best practice and knowledge. Our mission is to deliver quality, innovation, and value to our clients by understanding how to integrate fire safety in the design process in relation to local conditions and codes.

Fire safety cannot be understood in isolation and the combination of our global expertise and relationship with other WSP disciplines brings additional dimensions to our work providing an efficient project delivery model and bring commercial benefits for clients. Across the globe, we provide a broad range of services to deliver fire-safe buildings that are also functional and economical. These include the development of fire safety strategies, fire engineering design and specification, fire safety audits, fire risk assessments, computer simulation for fire dynamics, value engineering exercises and peer reviews.

Our role is to apply scientific and engineering principles, rules and expert judgement based on our understanding of how fire impacts a building, the interaction with human behaviour and how to ensure safe access for fire fighters. We combine theoretical knowledge and practical application, using advanced computer modelling of fire, smoke, evacuation and structural response.

We offer investigation, evaluation, design, construction review, commissioning and testing services related to a broad range of fire protection specialties including:

  • Fire pump & fire protection water supplies
  • Sprinkler and standpipe systems, hydraulic calculations
  • Special application extinguishing systems and laser smoke detection systems
  • Smoke management systems
  • Fire alarm and voice communication systems
  • Passive fire protection including fire proof and fire stop systems

We provide consulting engineering solutions related to:

  • Building and fire code consulting
  • Fire and evacuation modeling
  • Fire safety planning
  • Building audits and condition reports
  • Client representation to the Authority Having Jurisdiction
  • Alternative solutions, performance design and engineering opinions

Interaction with Designers and the Planning Authorities

Given that fire engineers are responsible for the fire safety strategy of a project, our work informs the whole design team on fire safety matters. It provides design guidance to architects, advises the building services engineers on what systems are required, such as smoke ventilation, fire dampers, fire detection, smoke alarms, emergency lighting and sprinkler systems, and provides vital information to structural engineers on how long a structure must be protected and how that is achieved.

The fire strategy is also a key document used by authorities to base their decision on for approving the safety aspects of a building. One of the most important aspects of our work is to liaise with building authorities as a scheme develops to discuss fire safety aspects, demonstrate that the strategy is safe in different scenarios and eventually gain approval for a fire-safe building that also meets its aesthetic, functional and commercial objectives.


Interpreting Code and Performance-based Design 

Fire precaution measures can be a large investment in any project due to the capital cost but also due to the potential loss of an efficient building design, such as floor space or staircases. It is also however, one of the most important investments that can be made in order to protect people and property from the dangers of fire. Combining theoretical knowledge with practical application, WSP is able to deliver optimal, performance-based designs.

The construction industry worldwide is subject to strict legislation governing fire safety. One of our tasks is to help building owners to understand and interpret the complex codes which vary from country to country and from sector to sector. In healthcare, for example, a project may have to comply with up to three different sets of codes.

For many projects, particularly non-standard developments, which may be large and complex and with high occupancy levels, standard code requirements may be inadequate, or may present obstacles with respect to a project’s vision, cost or function. Through the application of performance-based design, we can scientifically demonstrate that alternative solutions will achieve the same performance objectives as the code by calculating the building’s behaviour under realistic fire scenarios. This can add significant value to a project.


Keeping-up with Changing Environments

As buildings are required to be more flexible and reflect potential changes in use, innovative fire designs must be adaptable. Research into such designs is a significant part of fire engineering as well as new codes, materials and rapidly evolving technologies. WSP has paired up with universities to research topics such as fire retardant and sustainable materials, fire models for the urban built environment, new fire suppression technologies and lift evacuation strategies.