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Performance Based Design, Expertise Asymmetry, and Professionalism: Fire Safety Regulation in the Neoliberal Era

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Original languageEnglish
JournalRegulation & Governance
Early online date4 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2019


Fire safety has traditionally been regulated by prescriptive rules that stipulate requirements according to the type and size of building, with the regulator’s job being to check that these rules have been followed. However, many jurisdictions now allow Performance-Based Design regulation in which approval depends on the regulator assessing the prospective performance of a bespoke fire safety design for a particular project. Regulators thus need to be able to adjudicate on the knowledge claims put forward by fire safety engineers, but most regulators lack the knowledge to interrogate claims that are often the product of complex mathematical modelling across a range of disciplines. This expertise asymmetry poses a challenge for effective regulation of fire safety designs, and the relative immaturity of fire safety engineering as a profession needs to be addressed before it would be wise to rely on professional competence and ethics alone to ensure safety.

    Research areas

  • Fire Safety, Deregulation, Performance-based design, Professionalism, Regulation

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