Burning issue: Fire safety requirements in Qatar

White Young reveals some of the current trends in fire and life safety

ANALYSIS, Projects, Health and safety, Report

Established in Qatar in 1975, White Young is a fully multi-discipline firm comprising architects, structural and MEP engineers, as well as quantity surveyors and project managers.

After 2006, when Qatar Civil Defense Department (QCDD) implemented National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements for new build and existing spaces which required modification, White Young set up a qualified specialist and professional team specifically relating to the fire and life safety discipline.

The division deals with a range of facilities such as office fit-outs, luxury hotels and Doha’s new international airport, all in relation to the requirements of fire and life safety, such as occupancy loads and egress routes etc.

In recent years QCDD has become more and more stringent in enforcing regulations, which results in specific trends affecting the discipline – not only from a design basis but also from the role of the consultant. White Young has forged an excellent working relationship with QCDD as well as expert knowledge of its requirements.

Egress lighting: the lowdown

When designing and installing the egress lighting scheme there are key points which need to be considered to ensure the requirements of both QCDD and NFPA are met.

The lights need to illuminate the egress path and must be installed in the same direction, end to end. The level of emitted light also needs to be specific: 10.8 lux directly under the light at floor level to both open plan and corridor areas; and 2.2 lux at floor level between light fittings along the path of egress. It should also be noted that when developing specifications relating to fire and life safety equipment, all items must be pre-approved by QCDD prior to installation.

What are the impacts of the current trends upon the consultant’s role and that of the client/building owner?

There have been some significant changes in recent years, with emphasis upon the consultant to ensure that what has been submitted and approved meets not ony regulatory requirements, but those of the General Directorate as well. Some examples of these changes are given below:

White Young is required to ensure that all companies installing materials or equipment associated with civil defense works are pre-approved by QCDD; this also relates to the involvement of any company engineers.

To avoid abortive inspections by the QCDD team and the impact both to the cost and schedule, our firm undertakes a full pre-inspection of the completed civil defense works, to ensure full compliance with the approved scheme.

Another requirement is the coordination of the contractor and their sub-contractors to ensure that the information provided for the inspection request submission is applicable and valid. Furthermore, upon receipt of the inspection date from QCDD, the attendance of all relevant and approved engineers is required for the purpose of demonstrations.

While these are just a few examples of some of the current impacts within the market, we can expect trends to change continually and develop as a result of the ongoing construction boom here in Qatar. Therefore we need to keep focused on the needs of the authorities and those of our clients, to ensure we establish a workable compromise between the project’s design, its efficiency and the time constraints.

At White Young we strive to implement these safety aspects effectively while retaining the design ethic and ensuring that the fire and life safety is of paramount importance for the occupants of the building. Furthermore, we ensure all permits obtained for our clients carry the approval of QCDD and that of all the authorities, in the shortest time possible.

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