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The UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath has approximately 5,000 listed buildings in which the majority are used as commercial properties. In the mid-1990s many of these buildings were unoccupied above the first floor level due to the conflicts between building regulations and conservation efforts. Bath City Council commissioned us to help them demonstrate that these buildings could meet the requirements for fire safety without unnecessary changes to the design of these small Georgian terraced properties.

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The Problem

Many of the four to five story Georgian buildings have single staircases, which poses a significant challenge to designing an appropriate means of escape from fire. Protecting the architecture of the building as well as ensuring life safety was also considered critical to preserving local heritage for future generations.

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The Solution

We developed fire engineering solutions that met the requirements of fire safety while also considering the building fabric. We conducted research into alternatives methods of achieving compliance, including an analysis of sprinklers and smoke ventilation. Additionally, we carried out fire modeling to predict fire growth and smoke movement in the building and compared the level of safety to that of an equivalent-sized code compliant building. The analysis showed that the standard of safety in the proposed fire engineered buildings met the requirements of the code.

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The Results

Our research was accepted by the local Building Authority, which permitted many of these buildings to be used for much needed residential space. Our approach ensured there was a focus on elevated life safety of occupants in the event of a fire and an effective fire protection system in place for the preservation of the building.