Design Fire Consultants: Bringing the Fire Safety Sector into the BIM world

Design Fire Consultants

DFC’s aim is to provide any fire safety engineering service that clients need during design, construction and operation in the built environment. Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digitised workflows characterises many projects in these industries nowadays.

However, Design Fire Consultants felt that the fire safety sector was still inclined towards 2D and manual mark-ups so realised they had a chance to change that and be in the vanguard of BIM adoption for their fire safety projects.

Meet Design Fire Consultants

Based in the UK, with offices in London, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, Design Fire Consultants (DFC) provides fire safety engineering expertise for the design, construction and operation of buildings. As an independent company, DFC is able to combine high standards of expertise with a dedication to service quality and client value on every project. The Directors have more than 85 years combined experience in the development of fire and life safety designs for buildings across all sectors, in the UK and internationally.

DFC’s aim is to provide any fire safety engineering service that the clients need during design, construction and operation in the built environment. The company deliver high level of expertise whilst prioritising dedication to quality, client value and communication on every project.

DFC provide specialist planning advice for clients, contractors and designers on fire strategies for the built environment. Their advice is principally related to compliance with statutory requirements of the Building Regulations and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, and results in the definition of performance requirements that translate to design constraints for other designers in the implementation of their designs.

DFC’s engineers have been part of some of the UK’s biggest projects from the iconic Victoria and Albert Museum, Newcastle Gateshead Quays Arena and Olaya Station, Riyadh, UAE.

Challenge: Aligning with the construction sector move to 3D digitised workflows

The pressing need to digitise

James O’Hanlon is an Associate at DFC, and a Bimfire Leader within the company. “One of our directors was contacted by Briab to invite us to take part in the Proof of Concept and we were immediately enthusiastic about the opportunity”, says James.

“Innovation is one of our guiding principles at DFC and we had been feeling for some time that the fire safety sector had a pressing need to get up to pace with the rest of the construction sector.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) characterises many of our projects nowadays. From architects to building services providers and through to clients, digitised workflows are the order of the day—working with 3D models and Revit.

Our sector was still inclined towards 2D and doing manual mark-ups. We realised we had a chance to change all of that and to be in the vanguard of BIM adoption for fire safety projects”.

Briab are specialists in fire safety solutions design, and the creators of Bimfire (a Revit plug-in). Symetri and Briab became partners in disseminating and marketing this solution in June 2020. This is a joint drive to digitise fire safety design and change how the industry works with fire safety information today.

“In an area as critical as fire safety, it is extremely important that we work as closely with architects, design teams, and clients to reach optimum solutions accurately and fast”, says James.

“Fire safety specialists need to be leading in a sector where digital threads and digital twins are driving insight and precision to the highest degree.
Participating in a digital world with a 2D mark-up approach which is becoming more and more superseded by digital every day”.

Solution: A step-change in accuracy | Bimfire tools

End-to-end clarity

DFC worked with Briab to gain the fundamental skills for using Bimfire tools. “Our involvement in projects adheres to the RIBA work stages, from Stage 2: Concept Design to Stage 6: Handover and Close Out. There is a fire safety consideration to be made at every one of these stages. It was evident from the start that Bimfire workflows could align to these stages easily. Learning to use it was straightforward and it certainly excelled above using CAD tools from the moment we started to explore it”. Briab’s Revit application for fire safety design, Bimfire, integrates directly into the BIM workflow providing automated processes and delivering fire models as Industry Foundation Class (IFC). It’s easy to create visual fire safety models and includes routines for clash detection. Clients can see more clearly how the fire safety solution will integrate within a building across escape routes, compartmentation, structural elements, passive and active fire protection and fire services access. DFC’s success criterion for the proof of concept was that Bimfire would enable the team to create a fire strategy in Revit, instead of 2D. The test fulfilled this requirement and James was able to start using Bimfire on multiple projects as soon as the software had been given the ‘all-clear’ by the DFC team, Briab, and Symetri. James and the wider DFC team have utilised the software on a number of projects across multiple building sectors.


Outcomes: Proven innovation in fire safety design

This is the future

“One of the main benefits we’ve gained is the accuracy and efficiency due to the model automation”, says James. “With traditional workflows there is a risk that errors could creep in, especially when you consider the potential slippage between the creation of the fire strategy and mark-ups, then being passed to the architect who would create the fire safety model.  

Also, having the more mundane tasks automated, as they are with Bimfire, enables you to focus on the bigger issues and work more productively”.

DFC has now added Bimfire to its services and has started using it on more projects.

“Clients see the benefits of an end-to-end digitised approach, which brings fire safety design into the whole process at the beginning and enables clients to understand far more about what is happening. This is the future of fire safety design”.


  • Ensure full process integration with the 3D world; the way construction works today.

  • Meet client expectations around digitised workflows and the capability to work in Revit, with 3D models.

  • Accelerate workflows.

  • Increase accuracy.

  • Clash detection.


  • Adoption of Bimfire tools, enabling collaboration empowered by 3D models.

  • Eradicating 2D shortcomings and the tedium, effort and risk of manual mark-ups.

  • Automated processes and clash detection.

  • Integrated workflows.


As one of the three organisations that took part in the initial Proof of Concept, DFC is now in the vanguard of digital process adoption in the fire safety sector*

  •  Accelerated workflows.
  • Greater accuracy.
  • Enhanced productivity.
  • An expansion to DFC’s solutions/services portfolio.

Enabling the ‘golden thread’ requirement emerging across all corners of the construction sector.


*Two other Symetri client organisations undertook independent proof of concept projects for Bimfire, in working partnerships with Symetri and Briab; to expand collective insights and ensure representative trialing findings before Bimfire moved to full availability within the fire safety sector.

Related Cases