Fire Protection in the Built Environment

What are we learning about?

Fundamentals of Fire Safe Building Design

What to say when someone says “They don’t make them like they used to.”

Have you heard the song Little Boxes? All buildings are temporary structures. All buildings are built with the understanding that they will catch on fire. Building codes require fire and life safety provisions be built into a building, so that when there is a fire, the fire’s impact is limited.  Because we can’t prevent all fires.

Because. Strawberry Pop Tarts.

 The majority of fires start with items that are brought into a building, rather than built into it.  So if we can’t prevent it altogether, our next best option is to control it. Like getting a flu shot. It won’t prevent you from getting all flus, but it will keep most of the viruses at bay.  And if you do catch one, it won’t be bad.  What if you had a fire, but nothing was lost or damaged? Except maybe the Pop-Tart?

Here is a summary of key events related to building standards and the Building Standards Commission in California. This history helps to explain the development of the current processes by which building standards are adopted, approved, published, used as design and construction requirements, and enforced.  Look over the list and find three changes you believe would have impacted the fire service.

And the point is…

The objectives of building fire safety into a building are the same as the objectives of our first responders. The objectives are to limit the impact of the fire (damage and destruction, direct and indirect) to:

  • Life
  • Property
  • Building Continuity
  • Environment
  • Historical Buildings and Assets -read through this document, then match the elements of building fire safety from the list below to the recommended strategies in the document. Then open NFPA 550 (you will need to set up an account first) and compare it to the list of elements below AND NFPA 550.

                  Elements of Building Fire Safety

  • Fire Prevention
  • Design of Burnable Items
  • Active Systems
  • Passive Protection
  • Occupant Movement
  • Design for Firefighting


NFPA 550 Guide to the Fire Safety Concepts Tree

“Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.”

When I was 8 years old, a bear told me that I was the only person who could prevent forest fires. Why that bear chose me I will never know, but honestly, it has been a huge burden I’ve had to live with for too many years now.

Giving off heat. Heat sources

What’s that made out of? Ignitable materials

Ok Cupid factors that bring them together

Doh! (Face palm) -Practices that effect prevention success

Spread of Fire and Products of Combustion

fuel load- quantity type and distribution

interior finish

air supply

size shape construction of the room

Slow the burning -Designing Countermeasures to Fire Growth

organized around fire growth and products of combustion: heat smoke light/flame gas

I know you are, but what am I?

Fire load: light, ordinary, extra hazard

Interior Finish

air supply

size shape and construction of th room

Level of risk: How fast will fire reach the ceiling?

Is that the fire alarm again? Detection and Alarm

buying time

Wake up little susie- Wake up!

Automatic Suppression

Like having a firefighter in you home 24/7. But Better.


The door. Close the door.

You’ve got to keep them separated.

Design for Evacuation and Occupant movement


Design for Firefighting

  • Access
  • Notification
  • Initial Agent Application
  • Fire extinguishment
  • Ventilation
  • Water Supply and Use
  • Water Removal
  • Barrier Effectiveness

Partial Protection is Never Effective.

On a date or in a fire protection system. That’s why we advocate for a Comprehensive Fire Protection Approach.