Fire protection in the BIM process - Briab - Brand, Risk & Säkerhet


Why fire protection should be a standard part of the BIM process

BIM creates order in the building process. It enables project owners and all the parties involved in the project to get an overview, keep track and collaborate. BIM saves money and leads to a better final product. So it is odd that the fire protection discipline is completely absent in the BIM process. We at Briab want to change this.

crowd management

The term BIM has two meanings: Building Information Models and Building Information Modeling. The first refers to a digital work method that streamlines the building process and makes its components easily accessible to everyone involved. The second is the digital platform and the models that are created in it. The advantages of digitalizing the building process are obvious. Increasingly, clients are demanding that design is done in a BIM environment. As a result, all the involved parties have easier access to the right information when required, and can collaborate on a joint platform.

Sketches instead of digital models

Against this backdrop, it is surprising that the actors in the fire protection industry have, thus far, not been part of the BIM process. Instead, fire protection designers deliver their documentation in the form of technical specifications, which at best are visualized by way of simple drawings, but are often not more than sketches. Other project parties must then transfer this information to their BIM models. This is not an easy task, because the technical specification, often entitled fire protection specification, is normally a mixture of regulations from BBR (the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning’s building regulations), EKS (the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning’s regulations regarding mechanical resistance and stability), descriptions of the building in question and design instructions aimed at achieving satisfactory fire safety. This makes them difficult to interpret for designers outside the fire protection industry.

The clients demand change

So, why is it like this? Why isn’t fire protection a natural part of the BIM process? We asked Johan Norén, R&D Director at Briab – Brand & Riskingenjörerna AB.

“In the end it comes down to tradition. The industry is used to a particular way of working, and has adapted its business model to this. Still, we live in a digital reality. If we are to live up to our clients’ requirements, we have to accept this, and be prepared to change. It’s simple – we in the industry have to challenge tradition.”

A key observation

When Johan Norén was made project manager for fire protection on a major infrastructure project in Stockholm, he made a key observation.

“The project was model-based, in BIM. I checked around, to see if anyone else in the industry had used a model-based work method. But no one put up their hand. I realized that this was a problem that needed a solution.”

Briab’s management agreed, so Johan was given free hands to address the problem. With support from Svenska Byggbranschens Utvecklingsfond (the Swedish construction industry’s organization for research and development), a joint project together with NCC and Debrand Sverige AB was commenced, under Johan’s leadership. Its aim was to integrate fire protection engineering into the BIM process. The project report was published in the spring of 2018 – read it in full here.

Why is this issue so important?

“It doesn’t make sense that one discipline is outside of the BIM process. Especially since it directly affects every other discipline in the building process. As fire protection engineers we’re part of the team, so we have to work together with the other team members in the same process. If everyone else is playing soccer, it would be crazy if we turned up with tennis rackets. Until now it has been like that. So it’s high time that the fire protection industry also puts on its soccer boots.”

BIM facts

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. Put simply, it means that you create a digital 3D model for design and visualization. The purpose is to gather in one place all available information about the buildings, processes and decisions that are part of the building project. But BIM has also become a name for the work method – the process that involves components such as:

  • Visualization in a virtual environment
  • Project management tools, clash detection and coordination
  • Simulations
  • Information management
  • Calculation
  • Production checks


Here you can download the full project report:

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