fire safety industry

Revu’s intuitive markup tools have helped OFR Consultants stay at the forefront of the heavily regulated and complex fire engineering and fire safety industry

OFR Consultants specialises in fire safety services, overseeing a large portfolio spanning major commercial developments, visitor attractions, public sector facilities and sports stadiums. Since launching in 2016, OFR has grown to a team of 100+ spread across seven UK offices. Managing such rapid growth amid significant government oversight required that OFR be nearly flawless when it came to tracking its project work across employees and offices.

The firm turned to Bluebeam Revu, an intuitive, user-friendly software solution with a range of sophisticated tools that enable remote working.

Benefits of Bluebeam Revu for fire safety

  • With Revu, OFR is able to measure and markup architectural drawings without having to use complex modelling software, saving time and money.
  • Specifically, time stamping in Revu has enabled simple traceability of amendments and change to project documents, providing a reliable record of all markups.
  • Features such as Custom Columns, Layers, Standardised Toolsets, Overlay have provided enhanced organisational efficiency, giving the firm a competitive advantage.

A solution for the fire safety industry

Fire safety is a key consideration for every building and information about the design process, materials and the installation and ongoing maintenance of products must be shared across multiple stakeholders.

With proposals in place for a British Standard Code of Practice for the digital management of fire safety information and an industry seeking to improve its information in the wake of Grenfell, tools that can help manage this information are highly valuable.

Simon Lay, a founding director at OFR, said Revu has enhanced the way the firm manages challenges. In particular, it has proven perfect for dealing with OFR’s large stakeholder chain and breadth of data.

“Building control, local authorities, the fire service and other stakeholders all need access to our work,” Simon said.

“A lot of the design work we do is very complex using state-of-the-art tools that we can’t expect the approvers to be as up-to-date with. Revu helps us communicate that we have considered a wide range of scenarios and demonstrated the building will be safe under those conditions.”

Tracks changes for accountability

The role of a fire engineer in the fire safety industry is to ensure compliance with legislation and protect people and property from the devastating effects of fire. The OFR team adds most value if it is brought in before construction has even started, to analyse the plans to work out if a building will be compliant.

A fire statement is created setting out the measures that will be put in place in the building. This can be a difficult time in the process because the engineer is often working with limited information and only indicative room layouts. As plans can change throughout the design period, the ability to track changes and know who made them is critical.

fire safety industry

Tom Bentley, an associate director at OFR, has used Revu for around 10 years and champions the software, arguing that it should be the “go to” tool for any fire safety consultancy.

Tom said that Revu’s simplicity is one of its primary advantages, especially when a firm like OFR needed to train its rapidly growing workforce on it quickly.

“Marking up architectural plans with fire safety comments, measurements and properties in software removes the need for someone to do huge amounts of scanning and printing. Revu cuts hours and hours of time.”

One of the major benefits is how Revu speeds up the measurement process.

“There are rules within fire safety for the width of doors and corridors and how many people might be evacuating the building,” Tom explained.

“We use Revu’s Measure tool to calculate travel distances or use a customised perimeter tool in Toolset. We can add comments for the architect in Revu to say we need to increase the door size, for example.”

Achieving fire safety compliance

Another important requirement for the fire safety industry is compartmentation. Any building must be constructed to prevent the spread of fire from one part to another. Floors, walls and doors provide fire resistance -penetrations such as duct work and mechanical and electrical services can all enable smoke or hot gasses to enter a space and form part of the fire assessment.

This is where custom toolsets in Revu have been useful.

“We can show walls with customised coloured, line types from a toolset and add symbols for doors,” Tom said.

“Other markups from toolsets might be exit signage, fire brigade access, firefighting equipment, extinguishers and detection requirements. Refuges, lifts, emergency lighting and assembly points all need to be included in the plans.

“[Revu] gives us a consistent approach to marking up and the tools are pretty standard across the industry, making it easy to communicate our recommendations with other parties.”

Competitive edge with Revu

Simon added that, before using Revu, the firm did a lot of work by hand in marking up architectural drawings, or in CAD, requiring specialist hardware and training for team members. Revu removes this need, with all new staff able to have full access to the software’s intuitive functionality immediately.

“We chose Revu because of the practical, hands-on tools. As an engineer, a lot of our work is communicated visually and with Revu we can build up the toolsets we need and collaborate easily. We couldn’t do what we do without Revu,” Simon continued.

“If you aren’t using this tool, you are probably doing it by hand and expecting someone else to do the drawing for you. That leaves a lot of room for errors to be made, which can get communicated all the way through a project with long-term consequences. Revu removes that risk.

“Anyone pushing to improve their digital capabilities should use Revu. It is helping OFR to stay ahead of the game, providing an efficient tool with a huge selection of time saving and efficiency features.”

*Please note: This is a contributor profile.


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