The approach to performance-based design (PBD) for fire safety has not significantly changed since the early 1990s. This would not be a problem if PBD for fire safety was considered mature and widely accepted. However, this is not the case, especially when compared to other building-related engineering disciplines. The approaches to PBD for fire vary widely. As a result, designs often lack a ‘whole of systems’ approach, are based on inconsistent assumptions, widely varying input parameters, and inconsistent target outcomes, and are developed by practitioners who lack competence across the spectrum of knowledge and experience needed to develop holistic and integrated fire safety designs. It is suggested that such issues can be addressed through consideration and incorporation of sociotechnical and system safety thinking approaches to buildings and infrastructure and to PBD for fire safety. A proposed framework based on these concepts is presented.