Performance-based fire safety design

Performance-based fire safety design takes into account the fire situations likely to occur during the life cycle of the building and the resulting fire loads with their actual locations. Functional fire safety design guarantees a level of fire safety that meets, or is better than, the requirements. 

Fire safety planning in Finland is based on the Decree 848/2017 on the fire safety of buildings by Ministry of the Environment. The Decree allows design according to preset fire classes and numerical values (traditional “use of tables”) or based on assumed fire development (performance-based fire safety design). Decree 848/2017 entered into force on January 1st 2018, and supplementing Decree 927/2020 on January 1st 2021.

By using tables, fire safety design results in a pre-determined level of fire safety that is considered adequate at national level. The tables are based on the division according to the intended use of the buildings and the predefined fire load groups, as well as testing and classification of the fire properties of building components in accordance with European EN standards. With tables, the fire exposure is taken into account in accordance with the general fire power curve, the so-called standard fire. However, the actual fire exposure is often clearly lower.

Performance-based fire safety design

Performance-based fire safety design takes into account the fire situations likely to occur during the life cycle of the building and the resulting fire loads with their actual locations. In addition, performance-based design takes into account the fire safety systems selected for the site, such as automatic fire alarms and extinguishing systems. Performance-based fire safety design always means fire safety planning at an exceptionally demanding level.

KK-Palokonsultti Oy offers site-specific fire safety planning in both ways, traditional table design and performance-based fire safety design. Performance-based fire safety design is our area of expertise, where we are Finland’s leading fire engineering design office. Our experienced designers know how to take into account the special features of objects innovatively and according to the customer’s needs.

Benefits of performance-based fire safety design

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Performance-based fire safety design creates opportunities for large fire compartments and innovative solutions in demanding construction projects.

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With performance-based design, fair cost savings in construction and material costs can be achieved.

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As construction and material costs decrease, so does the carbon footprint of the building.

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Performance-based fire safety design can take into account the operational readiness of the rescue service.

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As a result, total fire safety of the building corresponds at least to the fire safety level according to the traditional use of tables. Often the safety level is better.

Methods of performance-based fire safety design

As methods for performance-based design, we commonly use fire and exit simulations and risk analyzes. Simulations examine the fire resistance of structures, the operation of smoke clearance, the operation of fire-fighting systems and the environmental conditions prevailing in the room during a fire. When these are combined with exit simulation, safety during the evacuation of the building is also ensured. The overall safety level of the building, the required fire protection systems and the fires used in the simulations are based on national statistics and probability-based fire risk analysis.

Performance-based fire safety design can also be used to investigate other fire safety issues, such as the suitability of fire extinguishers for extinguishing special chemicals or reactive substances, the spread of thermal radiation at the site, and the spread of fire on various surfaces, cavities and facades. We can also monitor changing temperatures of the structures during fire. We can, for example, assess fire resistance of fire glass structures if the required fire class (EI) cannot be determined by testing.