How we can incorporate fire protection into BIM - Briab - Brand, Risk & Säkerhet


How we can incorporate fire protection into the BIM process

History is full of examples of companies that were not able to change or live up to the demands of the day. They have one thing in common: they no longer exist. Now that the construction industry is increasingly digitalized, it is high time to integrate fire protection in BIM. A new project report shows how this can be done.


“The desire to change is and has always been a prerequisite for surviving in a competitive environment. Therefore, it pains me that my own industry has not shown much interest in adapting itself to a work process that has existed since the 1960s and that today is a natural part of the construction process.” says Johan Norén, Research and Development Manager at Briab – Brand & Riskingenjörerna AB.

He is talking about BIM, a process and a work method that has entailed a minor revolution in the construction sector. BIM has enabled a more efficient project design, simplified collaboration between project engineers, and resulted in fewer production errors and reduced costs. Therefore, it is no surprise that increasing numbers of clients demand that the project engineers involved work BIM-based.

Projects for change

However so far, one discipline has remained outside the BIM process. The fire protection engineers have not worked model-based – something that Johan Norén and Briab want to change. Johan has just concluded a project study aimed at implementing fire-related requirements and features in the BIM environment, a project funded by the Swedish Construction Industry’s Development Fund (SBUF), and which, apart from Briab, has also engaged NCC and DeBrand Sverige AB.

“I simply believe that this is a necessary change. It makes no sense that as an industry, we are outside a process that has become so central to the construction sector’s way of working”, says Johan Norén.

What concrete benefits will such a change bring?

“The large and overall benefit is enhanced quality for the Swedish fire protection. Today’s imprecise work methods bring huge risks for errors and mistakes. Risks that could reduce considerably if the fire protection engineers worked side-by-side with others involved in the same process. The would lead to a better and clearer role division and clearer requirement format which is easier to interpret, which together would result in better efficiency. The fire protection industry would, in other words, be able to deliver a better product, which would benefit both the industry and society as a whole”, says Johan Norén.

So, how should the work processes for fire protection engineering be included in the BIM environment? Below is what the project has concluded:

BIM level 2 (decentralized information flow where each discipline works with its own models, which at given intervals are merged into a coordination model)

  • In the introduction phase of the project, the protection level should be defined and mapped, starting from the society’s requirements, the client’s ambition and the project engineering stage. In the mapping, the various fire-related parameters are managed, which for example are fire class, evacuation route, surface layer class and areas to be sprinkled.
  • If Revit is used, the parameters should be grouped under “fire protection” and placed in the project’s “shared parameter file”. The parameters should be defined by the fire protection engineer, to ensure quality. Other disciplines that work within Revit then import the parameters that affect the objects to their own models. Alternatively, they can insert the values directly into the model and synchronize with the disciplines concerned. The copied models are attributed parametric values, based on the level of protection and type of dimensioning method, for example through object lists in Excel format. The values are then imported back to the model of the respective discipline.
  • Fire protection-related information and objects should be visualized, and their status should be specified in the form of a graphics display in a specific fire protection model. This is linked into models of the other disciplines and thereby included in the coordinated model.


BIM level 3 (collaborative, integrated and real-time driven information flow)

  • All disciplines work with the same model, but with different editing possibilities that are defined and created for the various project roles. BIM data is managed in a common cloud-based database.
  • The fire protection engineer creates relevant parameters for different objects in the model and clarifies what type of parameter it is. The engineer then specifies the values for the defined parameters based on the level of protection, for example class EI 60 for the fire class parameter.
  • Fire-related information is specified partly as parameters of the common model and partly as information in the database common to the project. The information can be edited in real time without having to import or export object lists between the different disciplines and players.
  • The fire protection engineer determines the fire-related information that should be included and places it spatially in the form of plan graphics in the common model.

“This type of work flow offers better and more current information as it is updated in real time. It also makes the fire protection engineer and others in the project better positioned to control the parameters needed in each stage, based on the level of protection”, says Johan Norén.

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 entire project report.

Other articles in the series:

Why fire protection should be standard in BIM

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