Meet The Experts:
Dec. 9 2019
Our ‘Meet the Experts’ series gives you the opportunity to learn more about members of the Bureau Veritas team and how they approach different roles across the business. Here Lee Bui, principal fire engineer in our Fire Safety Engineering team, explains his career path from Australia to the UK and looks at the importance of fire safety.
I started as a consultant in Australia nine years ago where I learnt the importance of fire engineering to the built environment under Gary Nenadovich, a recognised industry expert with over forty years of experience. During my time in Australia I was lead fire consultant in countless design teams responsible for a range of developments, from high rise residential buildings to mining infrastructure.
In 2016 I decided to bring my experience to the United Kingdom and I joined Bureau Veritas as a fire engineer. The move presented a new set of challenges. I was faced with unfamiliar regulations and a wealth of interesting developments in the UK market, but thankfully there was no language barrier.
Today I am a principal fire engineer leading Bureau Veritas’ London office, part of a close-knit Fire Safety Engineering team with partner offices in Manchester, Bristol and Dublin.
As fire engineers, we use our knowledge of the building regulations and engineering principles to help clients build safe, compliant and commercially valuable buildings. My role largely consists of reviewing engineering reports, distribution of work, management of client relationships, developing business opportunities and providing technical support to team members on more complicated schemes.
Our clients are typically main contractors, architects, developers, project managers and design managers. They are frequently presented with architecturally astounding buildings that cannot easily meet the requirements of the building regulations, either due to limitations in design or budget constraints.
This is where our team really stands out. We use engineering tools to demonstrate that the design meets the performance requirements of the regulations. We go on to mitigate the risks by enhancing features such as fire protection measures, elements of structure and fire-fighting facilities – all of which leads to the overall objective of delivering economically viable buildings that are aesthetically pleasing while maintaining safety in accordance with the regulations.
Innovation in fire engineering is a deeper understanding of existing technologies and scientific phenomena.
Next year we expect to see the launch of a new approval process for high-rise buildings in the form of ‘Permission Gateways’ by the UK government. This separates a typical project life cycle into three distinct phases where criteria such as competency and document control need to be met before regulators permit construction and occupation.
The gateways represent a shift in how we build by minimising changes to plans once submitted. This means significant involvement from fire engineers earlier in the design phase to develop a more mature design. Fundamentally, buildings will cost more and take longer to build but end up safer once completed.
Bureau Veritas recognises the changing needs of our customers with our constantly expanding range of services. Some more recent products in our repertoire include structural fire engineering analysis.
Our structural fire engineering analysis uses simulation techniques to predict the response of a structure when exposed to a fire. Steel frame buildings such as high-rise offices are excellent candidates as many parts of the structure have an inherent fire resistance that satisfies the applied loads for the duration needed.
This avoids the need for excessive fire protection of the steel resulting in significant savings on the cost of intumescent paints and fire rated construction. We are holding CPD seminars next year to help our clients understand the benefits of the analysis and recognise opportunities in their schemes. Reach out to us if you’d like us to come to you!
Aside from the technical excellence, my team of engineers is supported by experienced administration staff and the backing of a global organisation with specialists in air quality, building control, sustainability and acoustics all under one roof. We have an ISO 9001 quality management system with insurances to handle all project sizes, not to mention frameworks with many major developers - and the resources to handle many more.
It's an all-encompassing solution that really does cover every possible requirement when it comes to construction consultancy.
Good for me, is building a strong fire strategy that significantly reduces the risk of fire and providing our clients with the confidence that their building is safe.