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Development of NFPA Effect
Senior Fire Safety Engineer, Arup; MSc (Structural & Fire Safety Engineering), University of Iceland
While working in Dubai, Sigurjon Ingolfsson and his colleague Susan Lamont realised there was a gap in the market for a tool to classify and detect buildings at risk of façade fires.
The problem of combustible materials in façades was known, but possible solutions were not well understood and there was no consistent means of evaluation.
Ingolfsson and Lamont began looking for ways to make assessments and decisions based on risk formulated methodology.
Their internal research involved identifying and characterising key variables such as: components; materials; connection systems; installation techniques and geometrics; occupancy types; ages of application and proximity to other structures; and external factors such as weather and building fire-protection systems.
EFFECT is designed to help building owners, facility managers and approving authorities proactively and effectively assess the risk in high-rise buildings.
These were then incorporated into a risk model that let the user prioritise mitigation efforts, allowing authorities and building owners focused on assets and areas that needed attention.
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, the United States’ National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) engaged with Arup to develop the methodology fully. The goal of the project was to develop and make available a risk assessment methodology to help global authorities assess fire risks, and prioritise inspection and remediation efforts for the high-rise building inventory in their jurisdiction with exterior wall assemblies containing combustible components.
The methodology is qualitative and follows internationally recognised risk assessment approaches.
The result is the NFPA Exterior Façade Fire Evaluation Comparison Tool (EFFECT), which is designed to help building owners, facility managers and approving authorities proactively and effectively assess the risk in high-rise residential and office buildings.
There are currently around 2000 worldwide users of EFFECT, but it is likely that more people have benefitted from the tool globally.