BIM-enabled “Digital by Default” vision for fire safety
In England and Wales, building regulations apply to the design and construction of new buildings, extensions and changes of use. Regulation 38 (BRE, 2019) is a requirement to provide fire safety information to the responsible person at the completion of a project, or where the building or extension is first occupied. Regulations require as-built Fire Safety Information to be handed over by the design and construction teams to the responsible person to maintain and operate a building with reasonable safety. The responsible person is the owner, occupier, or manager of the building. The information would typically include; a fire safety strategy of the building that accurately reflects the fire safety precautions; and design and construction information, services information; and information about fixtures, fittings and equipment. Unfortunately, Regulation 38 has been far from successful and the required information is rarely communicated to the dutyholders in a manner that meets the intention of the authors. There is no requirement for the information to be presented to either the Fire Service or the Building Control Body for assessment. The requirement is merely for the person carrying out the work to confirm that the required information has been passed over (CIC, 2017). The guiding philosophy of legislation requires organisations to assess the potential risks associated with their work activities and to introduce effective measures to control risks. However, in reality the current regulations set the bar too low, with the industry looking to satisfy the minimum standards by the cheapest means possible, magnified by a lack of approval scrutiny.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 that killed 72 people, the UK Government commissioned the Hackitt Review (2018) of building regulations and fire safety. The Hackitt Review calls for radical change in culture in the construction industry and the regulatory system that assigns responsibility and holds people accountable. It also states that the Government should mandate a digital standard of record-keeping for design, construction and occupation of new Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRB) and refurbishments within HRRBs. A BIM-driven dataset is suggested, which requires duty-holders to generate a suitable evidence-base through which to deliver their responsibilities and maintain safety and integrity throughout the lifecycle of a building. This paper will examine the requirements set out in the Hackitt review and explores the need for a digital record of lifecycle building information. It examines examine the role of BIM as an enabler of the digital building information record and presents a conceptual framework that enables rapid realisation of the digital by default vision, via a Safe by Default Asset Delivery framework. It outlines the potential outcomes of the safe by default approach and discusses the potential opportunities and challenges likely to be considered if the BIM enabled “digital by default" vision was to be realised.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering