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Important Design Factors For Regulating Performance-Based Fire Safety Engineering Design Of Buildings In Australia

Poon, L.S., 2007. Important Design Factors For Regulating Performance-Based Fire Safety Engineering Design Of Buildings In Australia. AOFST 7


The practice of performance-based fire safety engineering design (PBFSED) has been active in Australia over the last ten years. PBFSED activities have also existed in the UK, Japan and New Zealand and are starting to increase in other countries such as the United States, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong/China. Despite the growth and expansion, there is still a relatively strong reticence expressed against PBFSED solutions, particularly from regulatory personnel where they have the responsibility of appraising the designs. In the current practice of PBFSED, significant variations in the final solution can occur even for similar buildings. This can lead to an unacceptable increase in the number of unsafe outcomes for buildings designed using a PBFSED approach. The variation in the design outcomes has previously been identified to be largely attributed to a lack of consistency in the determination of the input design parameters, methodologies and assumptions in the design processes, compared to other established engineering disciplines such as structural design. Although this is not a newly recognised issue, there has been little improvement accomplished in this area to date. Meanwhile, fire safety engineers continue to make their own judgement of what they believe constitute the best design parameters for assessing fire safety, and buildings continue to be designed in very much an ad-hoc approach in terms of achieving an adequate level of safety in the design. This paper looks at the practice of PBFSED in Australia, and identifies the important design parameters that can be used to form a preliminary framework for regulating performance-based fire safety engineering design of buildings in Australia. Whilst the experience in based in Australia, it is believed that the applicability is not limited to Australia.

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