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Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Category: Essential information September 14th, 2012 by mbc

Part B is about ensuring that all new buildings are safe in the event of a fire.

As of the date of writing, Part B was last revised in 2010 as a result of the Building Regulations 2010.

Part B is split into two volumes. Volume 1 deals with dwelling houses and volume 2 with buildings other than dwelling houses.

The regulations provide guidance in areas such as fire safety in multi-storey buildings & domestic loft conversions, smoke and heat alarms, the use of door-closing devices and sprinklers, the materials used in the structure and the building methods employed.

Both volumes of the regulations contain the following requirements:

  • B1 Means of warning and escape
  • B2 Internal fire spread (linings)
  • B3 Internal fire spread (structure)
  • B4 External fire spread
  • B5 Access and facilities for the fire and rescue service

Pertinent to the barn are the requirements for escape from the upper storey. Specifically in the second bedroom, where I’ve had to change the window hinge (although I’m not sure where the need to open to 90 degrees comes from explicitly as I can’t find it in Part B) and install a radiator cover to provide a step-up to the window and a means of escape. For reference, a window suitable for egress from the building must be at least 0.33m2 and at least 450mm in height and width, the bottom of the openable area of the window must be not more than 1100mm above the floor.

Forthcoming Welsh sprinklers regulations
In Wales there is an additional future requirement in relation to fire safety just over the horizon. From September 2013, the Welsh Assembly government (WAG) intend to make the installation of water sprinkler systems compulsory in all new homes. They expect this to save 36 lives and prevent an estimated 800 injuries between 2013 and 2022.

The Assembly will proceed with the plans despite a report from the built environment research organisation BRE Global that estimated that the cost per life saved would be £6.7 million and concluded that “fitting sprinklers in all new residential buildings in Wales would not be cost effective“.

WAG Environment Minister John Griffiths said:

“We must seek to prevent avoidable death and injury from house fires and need to accept that there is a cost to introducing sprinklers into new properties.
These proposals are significant and important in taking forward fire safety.
Wales will be at the forefront of reducing fire risk and cutting the number of avoidable deaths and injuries caused by fires in residential premises.”

The Assembly is currently working on development of the new regulations that are necessary to introduce the new sprinkler law. These will be subject to public consultation.

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