Building Regulations and Fire Engineering Guidance

On this page you can find information about building regulations and fire engineering guidance:

Building Regulations

Whenever a new building is to be built or alterations are proposed to an existing premises then Building Regulations approval will be required. Proposed plans for new premises and those undergoing alterations are usually sent for approval to either the local Authority Building Control department or an Approved Inspector. The proposed plans will then be passed to the local Fire and Rescue Service as a statutory for consultation.

New buildings and alterations to existing buildings have to comply with five overarching requirements in relation to fire safety. These are:

B1 - Means of warning and escape

The building shall be designed and constructed so that there are appropriate provisions for the early warning of fire, and appropriate means of escape in case of fire from the building to a place of safety outside the building capable of being safely and effectively used at all material times.

B2 - Internal fire spread (linings)

(1) To inhibit the spread of fire within the building the internal linings shall:

(a) adequately resist the spread of flame over their surfaces; and
(b) have, if ignited, a rate of heat release or a rate of fire growth, which is reasonable in the circumstances.

(2) In this paragraph 'internal linings' mean the materials or products used in lining any partition, wall, ceiling or other internal structure.

B3 - Internal fire spread (structure)

(1) The building shall be designed and constructed so that, in the event of fire, its stability will be maintained for a reasonable period.

(2) A wall common to two or more buildings shall be designed and constructed so that it adequately resists the spread of fire between those buildings. For the purposes of this sub-paragraph a house in a terrace and a semi-detached house are each to be treated as a separate building.

(3) Where reasonably necessary to inhibit the spread of fire within the building, measures shall be taken, to an extent appropriate to the size and intended use of the building, comprising either or both of the following:

(a) sub-division of the building with fire-resisting construction;
(b) installation of suitable automatic fire suppression systems.

(4) The building shall be designed and constructed so that the unseen spread of fire and smoke within concealed spaces in its structure and fabric is inhibited.

B4 - External fire spread

(1) The external walls of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls and from one building to another, having regard to the height, use and position of the building.

(2) The roof of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the roof and from one building to another, having regard to the use and position of the building.

B5 - Access and facilities for the fire service

(1) The building shall be designed and constructed so as to provide reasonable facilities to assist firefighters in the protection of life.

(2) Reasonable provision shall be made within the site of the building to enable fire appliances to gain access to the building.

Some types of premises also have their own specific design guides such as BB100 for schools and the Health Technical Memorandum for hospitals.

The Fire and Rescue Service will provide a written consultation for each application covering the matters applicable in relation to the design of the premises or proposed alterations as well as guidance on the matters you may need to take to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 once the premises is occupied.

A copy of the approved document which also contains the five overarching requirements can be found at Fire safety: Approved Document B (opens in new window) 

Fire Engineering

There are a various documents available to assist building owners to achieve compliance with regulatory requirements such as Approved Document B and BS 9999. Design codes can be prescriptive in their approach particularly in relation to unusual designs.

Fire engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people, property, and their environments from the harmful and destructive effects of fire and smoke. It focuses on human behavior and maintaining a tenable environment for evacuation from a fire

The principle benefits of using a performance based  engineered approach are the provision of enhanced design freedoms as well as the ability to specify the design to the buildings end use. 

There are two main types of fire engineering: fire protection engineering, where the engineer is responsible for the design of fire systems, such as automatic fire suppression and fire detection systems and fire safety engineering, where the engineer is responsible for the design of fire strategies, including the location and number of stairs, design of smoke control regimes and designed structural fire protection measures.

Fire engineered solutions use various engineering techniques and tools to achieve a safe premises. For example smoke extraction systems modelled alongside evacuation analysis could be used to ensure that a particular area can evacuated safely allowing design freedoms in other areas such as reduced escape widths.

There are various guidance documents available that deal with Fire Engineering such as CIBSE Guide E, and BS 7974: 2001: Application of fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings. Code of practice.

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