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Framework to implement a risk-informed performance-based fire safety approach

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Author: Straalen, IJ.J. van
Source:10th International Conference on Performance-Based Codes and Fire Safety Design Methods, 1-10
Identifier: 520123
Keywords: Architecture · Buildings and Infrastructure · Built Environment · Building Engineering & Civil Engineering · SR - Structural Reliability · TS - Technical Sciences


The demand of a risk-informed performance-based approach for fire safety in the Netherlands is growing. Various major incidents (pub fire within the city of Volendam with 14 casualties in 2001, fire in the detention centre of Schiphol-East (airport) with 11 casualties in 2005 and the fire in the mental health care institution Rivierduinen within the city of Oegstgeest with 3 casualties in 2011) have initiated the need for an upgrade of fire safety regulations. In 2009 the two Ministries responsible for this issue already noted (1) that the existing regulations are limited and that a risk-based approach should be developed. All major stakeholders involved underline the need for such an approach. The use of a risk-informed performance-based approach to building regulations is promoted by the Inter-jurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee, IRCC, (2) by stating that the use of risk to establish tolerable performance makes sense. To do this an hierarchy is presented which links goals by means of functional statements and operative requirements, which are quantified by actual risk criteria and matching verification methods. The discussions on the implementation of such an approach show that fire safety engineers mainly think in fire safety solutions. They know how solutions perform in relation to each other in terms of qualitative risks, but they have difficulty determining how a given solution performs regarding a given quantitative risk criterion. To tackle this discrepancy the author of this paper worked out a framework which relates well-defined risk criteria with the considered fire safety solutions. The framework starts with the definition of risk criteria for fire safety by translating relevant operative requirements for the goal personal safety into a set of risk criteria. In the next step special attention is given towards the quantification of these risk criteria by accommodating perceptions of risk. To be able to verify a required probability, it is explained how underpinning scenarios can be fitted with fire safety engineering tools by using a probabilistic approach. This is worked out in general terms. Such analyses will result in a calculated probability that an unwanted event will occur, which value can be directly compared with the required risk criterion. Finally the steps to be made to develop the whole framework are summarized and attention is paid towards the need for support of all stakeholders involved