Understanding Fire Safety Building Regulations
If you’re embarking on a largescale property project, it’s essential to seek fire safety guidance before you begin.
If you’re building or renovating your home, then at some point you’ll come up against Plan B of the Building Regulations code (England and Wales) which relates to fire safety. Far from being another planning obstacle hurdle to get over, fire safety precautions are in place to save the lives of everyone in your household. Therefore, it’s essential that you comply with the necessary regulations. To pass your building inspection with flying colours, here’s what an inspector will be looking for.
Fire Engine Access
In the event of a fire, your local fire crew needs to be able to access your entire building at speed. This means that they should be able to pull close to your property, reach the location of the fire and supply water at sufficient pressure to put out the flames.
As your first point of detection in an emergency, your property should be fully equipped with smoke alarms. In new properties and extensions, your smoke alarm system must be mains-powered and interlinked so that the smoke alarms on each floor are connected together. These units should be within 7.5 metres of bedroom doors and must be present in hallways and on landings.
Open plan layouts are increasingly popular throughout the UK, but they do have additional safety challenges to be aware of. A kitchen which isn’t cordoned off from the rest of the house using fire safety doors
, will need a heat detection system linked to the mains smoke alarm unit.
Escaping Through Windows
It’s important to consider not just how many storeys your building has, but additionally the height of the floor from the ground. Where your first floor is less than 4.5 metres above the ground, you’ll need to provide egress windows to act as an escape route through all habitable rooms. These do not include bathrooms.
Fire Escape Routes In Taller Buildings
Where you have one or more storeys above the 4.5 metre point, egress windows
cannot be used sufficiently as a fire escape strategy as you wouldn’t be able to safely exit the building this way. Instead, you must construct a fire escape passage, which would usually be your existing staircase, landing and hallways. Each room located off the main fire escape route must be protected with fire rated doors which offer fire resistance for a minimum of 30 minutes. If your top floor extends above 7.5 metres, as is typically the case with fourth floor attic conversions, then you have two options. Either you can install an advanced sprinkler misting system, or you must install a secondary fire escape, usually externally as added protection.
Considering Your Neighbours
A fire safety inspector will also consider the spread of fire to your neighbours, if you live in a terrace or semi-detached property for example. As part of their checks, the building inspector will examine the materials used in your cladding to ensure that they’re not combustible.
Due to the potential for failing your fire safety inspection, and the costs associated with correcting your project, it’s essential that you seek professional guidance and approval before you commence with any major works.