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Building Regulations Approved Document B - Technical Review announced by government

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster the government announced its intention to review Building Regulations Approved Document B. The long awaited Technical Review has now been commenced with a Call for Evidence lasting until 1 March 2019.

The government has simultaneously published revisions to Approved Document B to restrict the use of assessments in lieu of tests.  It has also issued guidance on assessing fire door performance based on test evidence.

We summarise the key areas of focus and proposals below:

  • Evidence is sought about whether Part B should seek not only to protect human life but also to minimise or prevent property damage from fire in its approach.
  • The call for evidence considers whether changing the purpose groups (which reflect common building types) to a more risk-based approach in line with BS9999 would be beneficial.
  • It also proposes a review of guidance for sheltered and residential care home accommodation
  • It invites evidence on fire safety provisions relating to people living in their homes for longer
  • Views are sought on technical issues associated with compartmentation, including compartment sizes
  • It proposes a reduction in the unprotected external area of properties in light of the increased levels of insulation now used
  • Consideration is to be given to whether height and square footage thresholds for issues such as sprinklers and compartmentation should shift to a more sophisticated system
  • The government will examine whether two means of escape should be prescribed and how best to address smoke control for “stay put” buildings by reference to best practice from the rest of the world.
  • Evidence is requested about shifting population trends and their likely effect on design and safety, also on the provision of refuges versus evacuation lifts for disabled residents
  • Responses are sought about better, more transparent and more effective ways to improve the specification and testing regime including how to address other issues such as smoke toxicity in a fire.
  • A review of studies undertaken by the Scottish and Welsh governments into sprinkler systems in new builds.
  • A review of existing guidance on external fire fighting vehicle access will take place.
  • Evidence on ensuring that guidance on internal fire fighting tactics and capabilities remains appropriate, including firefighting shafts and fire mains is sought.
  • A holistic review of fire safety in basements will take place.
  • The call for evidence queries whether the current provisions in Approved Document B address the risks associated with current design features, construction methods and materials.
  • Guidance on installation should be published by the industry given widespread issues such as cavity barriers and fire stopping.Government will work with the sector to review and prepare updated good practice guidance.
  • Evidence on issues that should be covered by Approved Document B is welcome, for example fire resistant cable classification as set out in BS7671

Responses are also invited on whether changes should be implemented in a single publication or as a rolling programme of updates.

Stakeholders should review the document, which can be found here and determine how to respond to ensure their contribution to the discussion is considered.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at December 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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