"We [...] believe there is a gap in terms of best practice that identifies the steps to take for even the most complex structural steelwork and provides authoritative guidance for those in the supply chain," he says

"The process being developed [by RIBA and ASFP] will include mandatory sign-offs as construction progresses, with all information reaching the end-user to support adequate fire risk management."

READ: The UAE is leading the Gulf’s fire safety programmes

Within the remit of steelworks, it is also integral to ensure that life safety coatings applied to buildings are appropriately thick, without which "fire protection will likely not be adequate". This is especially significant since intumescent coatings are preferred by designers for experimentation with shape and glazing, as well as the visibility of the building's steel frame.

"In recent years, and particularly over the past five to 10 years, the UK steel construction industry for medium- and high-rise buildings has evolved rapidly," Glendenning explains.

"It is now commonplace to see long-span construction with fewer columns, coupled with down-stand cellular beam construction, to incorporate services through floor beams, rather than below, as was the norm some years ago. The Middle East may well follow suit." 

Such a design typically offers the advantage of increased lettable area, uninterrupted views, faster construction, and reduced floor-zone depths, which reduce costs by either lowering the building's height, or increasing the number of floors. 

"However, the lines of communication become increasingly blurred between the various supply chain parties involved," Glendenning says. 

"From the designer, to the specifier and to suppliers through to the installers and the building control officers, the detail can be lost, be misunderstood, or not be addressed at all.

READ: Enforcing regulations can counter building fires in Middle East

"One issue in the protection of steel structures, for example, is to assume the steel design output – and the subsequent, redundant load-bearing strength – leading to an increased critical temperature. This reduces the level of coating protection required.

"To estimate [under provable standards] for any reason is a high-risk approach that should be questioned vigorously – only actual design output should be used and supplied by the project design team. To assume a value to gain a competitive advantage or solve a challenge is not engineering – it is potentially risking life and property safety." 

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