Fire Protection Association

The Fire Protection Association build and deploy their Fire Fighting Advisory Systems, using XpertRule Knowledge Builder

By Simon Bird of the Fire Protection Association and the RISCAuthority

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) and RISCAuthority works closely with most major insurers, many other organisations and agencies in order to promote good fire safety and loss prevention practice. In the course of its work, the Association has observed a trend of increasingly poor choices when it comes to the selection of appropriate fixed fire fighting systems (such as fire sprinkler systems, gaseous extinguishing systems, water mist systems, foam and aerosol  systems, etc) for any given application. These systems are an essential fire safety management tool, particularly in potentially high financial and risk consequence scenarios. In the UK and Europe over recent decades regulatory changes have been successful in creating an environment in which more innovation can take place. Increased numbers of fixed fire fighting system types are now available to the user. However, not all systems offered are equal in terms of; suitability, cost, maturity of supporting knowledge, and overall performance or in-service reliability. Understanding of the systems’ performance and its limitations and how to match this to the assessed fire risk is incomplete among users. There are few experts in the field and consequently access to expert advice is limited and expensive. Poor selections can have a catastrophic effect upon safety, business continuity and resilience.

In collaboration with Loughborough University, a research project was commissioned to investigate feasibility and develop an Expert System to assist users in making more appropriate fixed fire fighting system selections.  In the course of the research XpertRule’s Knowledge Builder was identified as the most powerful, adaptable and efficient environment in which to both accumulate and structure the required underpinning knowledge that would form the tool. The focus of this research became developing a fixed fire fighting system selection tool to complement existing legislation, which incorporates logic, rules and fire safety educational resources in a variety of formats to aid the fire safety design process. A variety of largely heuristic techniques have been used to aggregate data to form knowledge to underpin fixed fire fighting system selection tool. Supporting resources have been incorporated into the tool and signposted to users in order to assist users in evaluating the levels of reliability they might expect from a system in their circumstances. In this form, the tool has been validated by experts as being a useful resource and valuable source or expert information. The developed tool also provides ample opportunity for useful ongoing future development.

 

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