Digital engineering team wins top award for excellence in improving fire safety

20 July 2020

THE DIGITAL engineering team at multidisciplinary property and construction consultant Ridge and Partners LLP has won the Constructing Excellence SECBE Award in the Digital Construction category for its Building Information Modelling (BIM) firestopping solution that addresses all M&E services passing through fire-rated walls and floors.

This ground-breaking innovation reduces the risks and costs associated with fire safety regulations, which are now subject to closer scrutiny following the findings of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety conducted in response to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Ridge and Partners LLP was awarded the accolade for its ‘Model Firestopping Review’ innovation designed to test the compliance of building designs against regulations and test data using BIM technology. The concept was initially developed by Ridge and Partners LLP in collaboration with Laing O’Rourke and Rockwool while working on a major project for a large automotive client.

In essence, the process uses BIM modelling to check the compliance of ‘fire stopping’ for M&E services passing through walls and floors. It reduces the risk of buildings not complying with fire regulations which require firestop products (and the building services passing through them) to be installed in accordance with laboratory-tested data.

Brent Rees, partner and head of digital engineering at Ridge and Partners LLP, informed Fire Safety Matters: “We’ve worked closely with our clients to help address this vital issue and more intelligently demonstrate compliance with the regulations. In doing so, we’ve created a completely new way of using digital technology to reduce the risk and cost for our clients that would be incurred if they didn’t comply with the regulations.  Most importantly, in the longer term we’re helping to save lives in the event of a building fire.”

Adrian O’Hickey, senior partner at Ridge Ridge and Partners LLP, added: “We feel incredibly honoured to have been recognised for our work in this important field. The advantages of our innovation will be felt by contractors, designers, suppliers, building owners and operators alike. The ultimate benefit is the reassurance that buildings are protected from the risk of fire as much as they possibly can be.”

Benefits to be realised from BIM fire stopping are as follows:

*Substantial cost saving for the client and contractors

*Substantial programme/time saving for the client and contractors

*Clarity of design liability between contractor/consultant

*Saved project costs due to rework or redesign

*Early engagement in the process ensures services are better integrated into the final design, thereby avoiding design sacrifices

*Data in the model assists with understanding of what has been installed, aiding facilities management and providing for any changes to be made to the building in the future. The information is ‘The Golden Thread’ which keeps on going, providing operational continuity for the building in use

*Sustainability gains would be achieved by reducing rework and shortening programmes, cutting back on the overall carbon footprint of a building project