Holmes Fire is a specialist fire engineering firm, our core business is performance-based fire engineering design. We also provide a range of complementing fire safety services.
We design and deliver to the highest industry standards, always aiming to exceed client expectations. Our fire safety designs add value to projects, we provide our clients with design flexibility, cost savings, reductions in construction timeframes and peace of mind that their design satisfies the relevant building codes and legislation.
Performance-based ﬁre engineering is value-added engineering enabling the development of tailor-made fire safety designs to cater for speciﬁc project requirements. Holmes Fire has a wealth of experience on a wide range of projects, large and small, across all market sectors.
Performance-Based Fire Engineering (Australia)
Performance-based ﬁre engineered Alternative Solutions add value by enabling the development of tailor-made designs to cater for speciﬁc project requirements in lieu of adopting the restrictive requirements of the Building Code of Australia Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.
Holmes Fire has vast experience in providing Alternative Solutions to address fire and smoke compartmentation, fire spread, occupant egress, smoke hazard management systems, fire safety systems and fire brigade facilities.
Experience has shown we can add the greatest value to a project by being involved in the preliminary design phase rather than being limited to addressing non-compliances identiﬁed by others.
Performance-Based Fire Engineering (US)
Development of alternative ‘Means and Methods’ through fire engineering assessment adds significant value to a project by enabling the development of tailor-made design solutions, specific to the project. A more holistic design approach can be adopted under this framework to factor in a range of project objectives; such as owners requirements, flexible use, business continuity, sustainability and energy conservation. Such aspects often conflict with or are not provided for within prescriptive building code requirements.
Experience has shown we can add greatest value to a project by being involved in the preliminary design phase to identify opportunities to add value and address code non-compliances early, as opposed to later in the process when the design and schedule is more rigid. Examples of alternative means achieved through performance-based fire engineering are:
- Rationalize / eliminate applied fire protection to structural steel;
- Verify compliance of new / untested structural systems for fire performance;
- Address fire area separations to allow increased openings and connecting spaces within buildings;
- Atrium smoke management designs to increase connection and minimize mechanical systems;
- Occupant evacuation assessment to rationalize building exiting provisions;
- Development of sympathetic fire safety strategies for adaptive reuse of historical buildings; and
- Lot line facade assessment to permit increased natural lighting.
Fire Safety Designs – Acceptable Solutions and Verification (New Zealand)
The Acceptable Solutions are designed to cater for most buildings that are typical in nature, but the prescriptive approach results in limited design freedom and difficulty in achieving compliance for any building design that is a little out of the ordinary.
In these situations Holmes Fire can prepare performance-based fire safety designs in accordance with the Verification Method to cater for the specific attributes of a building. This approach often maximises architectural flexibility, reduces construction costs and timeframes and yields more functional buildings for end users.
Performance-based ﬁre engineering is value-added engineering enabling the development of tailor-made designs to cater to speciﬁc requirements of the building owner and users. For example, through Holmes Fire’s performance-based approach we have shown that not all warehouses need to be sprinklered, single means of escape residential buildings can comply with the Building Code and not all atriums need to be provided with smoke extract systems.
Its not just special use and atypical buildings that benefit from performance-based fire engineering. A performance-based approach can add value to even the most common buildings, such as a commercial office building, by justifying increased occupant loads for a given number of exits or empirically determining the inherent Fire Resistance Rating of concrete or structural steel elements.
S112 Means of Escape Assessments (New Zealand)
Section 112 of the Building Act requires that the impacts on fire safety are assessed when a building undergoes alteration. Whilst Section 112 has been part of the Building Act for some time, the 2012 changes to the Building Code means that existing buildings constructed under the old Building Code must be assessed under the new Building Code to ensure they comply with the provision of means of escape from fire on a near as reasonably practicable basis.
Holmes Fire has unparalleled experience in assessing the means of escape in existing buildings that are the subject of alterations or additions. We have provided means of escape assessments on all types of projects, large and small, across all market sectors. Our detailed knowledge of the Building Code, both the Acceptable Solutions and the Verification Method, enables us to assess the fire safety in buildings in a holistic manner and determine the fire safety systems that are most appropriate for the building.
Building Code of Australia Assessments (Australia)
Holmes Fire can undertake Building Code of Australia assessments to identify non-compliances with the fire safety aspects of the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions.
As ﬁre engineers we not only understand the requirements for ﬁre safety of building codes, but also the intent and reasoning behind them. We are able to propose Alternative Solutions when non-compliances are identiﬁed, or advise if the Deemed-to-Satisfy approach is more appropriate.
Additionally, we can advise where Alternative Solutions may be beneficial to a project, even in instances where Deemed-to-Satisfy solutions may be proposed. We look beyond merely achieving compliance with the building code, we seek opportunities to add further value to our clients.
Fire and Life Safety Code Consulting (US)
Establishing compliance with the prescriptive fire and life safety provisions of code is not as straight forward as it seems. Couple that with Historical and Existing Building Code, Federal, State and local authority amendments can create a labyrinth for designers to navigate. Holmes Fire has significant experience with applying building code provisions to projects of varying complexity and within a number of different jurisdictions.
As Fire Engineers we understand the basis and intent of code provisions, which enables us to assist with the interpolation of and negotiation with authorities as to the most appropriate path of compliance for a project. To take is a step further, our background in performance based design allows us to identify alternative solutions to identified non-compliances as they arise, and provide further value to a project through developing a holistic fire safety strategy, which may comprise both prescriptive and performance based design, to achieve a tailor-made solution.
Structural Fire Engineering
Modern building codes of construction have prescriptive requirements for achieving fire resistance of structures. Some of these fire rating requirements can be highly onerous and can result in costly structural fire protection, increased structural weight or impede on the aesthetics and architectural aspirations of modern building design. These requirements are generic and do not consider project specific requirements, and can lead to a simplistic and inefficient designs.
Holmes Fire has a specialist team of engineers with a high level of experience in performance based structural fire engineering. We understand how structures behave in real fires and can provide innovative solutions to safely eliminate unnecessary structural fire protection and to optimise structures for fire resistance. We employ a wide range of analysis methods, including advanced finite element analysis that can detect failure mechanisms in structures, resulting in more robust structural design.
We have more than ten years of experience in applying structural fire engineering on real projects in New Zealand, Australia and the US. The resulting designs have provided significant benefits to the projects by:
- reducing construction timeframes;
- providing significant cost reductions with regards to construction materials and applied fire protection;
- improving aesthetics by showcasing exposed timber and steel members;
- providing lighter and more optimised designs; and
- improving the flexibility of the designs for later changes of use.
Construction review is the process of inspecting buildings throughout the construction stage with the aim of ensuring the requirements of the ﬁre engineering design have been correctly implemented. In many cases construction review is required to satisfy building legislation, regulatory authorities and the fire brigade.
Construction review is a package of services designed to help obtain an Occupation Certiﬁcate whilst minimizing unnecessary and unexpected delays. Holmes Fire will identify potential fire safety construction issues, provide ad-hoc fire safety advice and review all relevant certification and supplier statements to check that the building will satisfy the necessary fire engineering and building code requirements. Where additional fire safety issues become apparent during construction, Holmes Fire can often solve the problem by preparing a performance-based fire engineering design.
Peer Review of Fire Engineering Reports
Fire engineering peer reviews oﬀer the client, design team, fire brigade and Approval Authority an additional assurance that the tools, methodology, and data used to develop an Alternative Solution have been utilised and implemented appropriately, in accordance with industry best practice.
Holmes Fire will objectively verify that the design methodologies implemented are in accordance with the International Fire Engineering Guidelines and that the analysis and data used are appropriate to the ﬁre engineering issues.
Our Accredited Fire Engineers oﬀer speciﬁc and constructive advice regarding the suitability of the design inputs and acceptance criteria, as well as commenting on accuracy of assumptions and limitations. Holmes Fire also checks the ﬁre engineering report for construction and installation requirements, to ensure they are adequate, but not too onerous, in achieving an appropriate level of ﬁre safety.
Interim Fire Safety Strategies
Where construction or demolition works interface with existing, occupied parts of a building, the works often necessitate decommissioning certain fire safety systems or blocking egress paths. As a result, the safety of building occupants could be compromised. Holmes Fire is able to prepare Interim Fire Safety Strategies to maximise fire safety in partially building occupied buildings during demolition and construction works.
We understand the short-term nature of these transitional periods, and using our extensive knowledge of ﬁre science, aim to achieve adequate ﬁre safety through ﬁre safety systems and the implementation of management-in-use procedures. An Interim Fire Safety Strategy provides a level of comfort that adequate ﬁre safety is achieved for occupants of the building, and aids in obtaining an Interim Occupation Certiﬁcate, or other approval in the most timely and cost eﬀective way possible.
Fire Safety Upgrade Strategies (Australia)
Should you be concerned or aware that the fire safety in your building might be lacking, or where council has issued a Fire Order under Section 121B of the EP&A Act, Holmes Fire can assist by preparing a Fire Safety Upgrade Strategy.
Holmes Fire will assess the existing building against the current building code and help you to understand how it compares against the benchmark of the current code. From here our experienced engineers will work together with the project stakeholders, inclusive of Council, to develop a Fire Safety Upgrade Strategy to improve the level of fire safety within the building, recognising that full compliance with the current code may not be necessary.
Our upgrade strategies are sympathetic to the existing nature of the building and features that are of architectural significance or contribute to the building character. We aim to design fire safety solutions that are pragmatic and cost effective, yet still provide significant improvements to the level of fire safety.
Holmes Fire can also assist in determining the priority in which works should be undertaken if your upgrade is proposed to be staged over a number of years.
Heritage Fire Safety Upgrade Strategies
Achieving adequate fire safety in heritage and historically significant building can be challenging, and attempting to achieve compliance with the current building code can often be more destructive to the architectural features of a building than an actual fire. Holmes Fire has vast experience in preparing fire safety upgrade strategies for existing buildings that are sympathetic to the architectural and heritage features.
Our heritage fire safety upgrade strategies not only provide adequate safety for occupants, but can be tailored to provide additional levels of property protection to minimise the impact of a fire on the historic fabric of the building.
Property Protection and Business Continuance Design
Building codes are primarily concerned with life safety and protection of neighbouring property. Property protection and some degree of business continuance are coincidentally gained by achieving code compliance, however if you are serious about mitigating property and business risks associated with fire you need to go beyond the building code.
Holmes Fire has extensive experience in holistic fire safety design to achieve property protection and business continuance objectives. We work collaboratively to establish what your businesses level of acceptable risk is and develop cost effective fire safety solutions to protect critical business infrastructure, minimise the downtime caused by a fire and mitigate the impact a fire could have on your brand.
Design Documentation Review
Effective design documentation involves the collation of a wide range of information from a large number of specialty consultants and designers. Fire engineering requirements are often only determined at the later stage of the design development and as a result can be overlooked in the final documentation from the various consultants and designers.
Holmes Fire can undertake design documentation review to check drawings and specifications for consistency with the Fire Engineering Report requirements. This provides piece of mind that all consultants have allowed for the fire engineering requirements and that the building is more likely to be constructed in accordance with the fire safety strategy.
Computational Fluid Dynamics Fire and Smoke Modelling
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a method of calculation that allows a building to be simulated as a collection of millions of tiny cubes to determine how fire and smoke will spread throughout a space. It enables our fire engineers to accurately model the impacts of a fire within a building, before the building is constructed.
Using tools such Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), Holmes Fire can undertake detailed analysis and optimisation of smoke control systems in complex buildings, to determine what smoke extract rate your building needs in order to provide adequate fire safety. In all but a few cases, the resultant smoke extract rate will be less than that specified by the building code and allow greater flexibility with regards to smoke zone sizes.
Our experienced engineers have a detailed understanding of fluid dynamics, affording them the ability to optimise the smoke exhaust design to suit the building geometry and features and minimise smoke spread. Holmes Fire has extensive experience in CFD modelling of large warehouses and manufacturing plants, shopping centres, commercial buildings with connecting voids, atria, and road and rail tunnels.
Evacuation and Pedestrian Movement Modelling
Modelling the movement of individuals and groups of occupants in a building is a complex problem with many inﬂuencing factors. For complex buildings, or instances involving movements of large crowds, Holmes Fire is able to undertake evacuation simulation models to gain insight into the eﬃcacy of an egress system.
Holmes Fire can use pedestrian movement modelling to assess the egress from a building to ensure occupants are able to evacuate safely in an emergency. We can also assess non-emergency pedestrian flows, for example, for stadia and transport terminals to identify pinch points and optimise the width of walkways.
Due Diligence Assessments and Audits of Building Fire Services
Holmes Fire is able to provide audits of buildings with regards to building code and fire services compliance to take a snapshot in time of a building’s level of fire safety. Holmes Fire will undertake a high level assessment of the building against the relevant building codes and standards to identify significant fire safety non-compliances. Our experienced engineers can also undertake an independent audit to document the fire safety systems that are installed in the building and to what standard of performance they should be maintained. This assists with the ongoing maintenance and annual certification of the building.
Fire Protection Engineering
Holmes Fire provides fire protection engineering to design fire safety systems including dry fire and wet fire. Our experienced engineers provide full detailed specifications and fire services drawings that are easy for other consultants to understand. We can provide our deliverables in REVIT or any format that you prefer.
Holmes Fire has specialist expertise with the design of fire protection systems in Industrial Power and Power Generation.