2018 Fire & Life Safety Study

Fire, life safety in office buildings

By Amanda Pelliccione April 24, 2019

Eighty-one percent of engineers specify, design or make product selections for office buildings, according to the Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2018 Fire & Life Safety Study  and 87 percent of these engineers are responsible for determining the requirements/writing the fire and life safety system specifications for these projects. Below are five fire and life safety system findings as they relate to office building projects: 

  1. Design value: Engineering firms are specifying $2,076,000 annually, on average, in fire and life safety systems for new and existing office buildings, with 20 percent specifying more than $3 million.
  2. Products specified: Fire, smoke, heat and linear detection systems (65 percent); smoke detection, control systems, dampers, etc. (58 percent) and network and intelligent fire alarm control panels (51 percent) are the top three types of fire and life safety systems being specified into office buildings.
  3. Recent changes: When specifying fire and life safety systems for office buildings, engineers have recently observed changes to codes and standards, building information modeling and wireless devices/systems, which have been affecting system design.
  4. Specifications: For office buildings, performance fire and life safety systems specifications are written 79 percent of the time, followed by prescriptive and open: alternate or substitute.
  5. Challenges: Inadequate budgets (76 percent)the subjective interpretation of regulations by code authorities (70 percent) and speed of project delivery (66 percent) are the top challenges engineers face when specifying fire and life safety systems for office buildings. 

7 out of 10 engineers research and evaluate the options when selecting HVAC systems, equipment and controls. Source: Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2019 HVAC & Building Automation Systems Study 

37%: Average amount of billable hours/time at work that engineers spend researching and/or specifying electrical and power systems. Source: Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2018 Electrical & Power Study 

45% of engineers have observed a recent change in the use of building information modeling for fire and life safety system projects in the past 12 to 18 months. Source: Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2018 Fire & Life Safety Study.

More research 
Consulting-Specifying Engineer covers several research topics each year. All reports are available at www.csemag.com/research. 

View more information at www.csemag.com/2018-fire-life-safety-study. Amanda Pelliccione is the research director at CFE Media. 

Author Bio: Amanda is the Research Director and Project Manager of Awards Programs for CFE Media and its publications.