Fire Safety Regulations for Residential Construction in UK

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Regulations | 0 comments

Fire Safety Regulations for Residential Construction in the UK

There were 284 fire-related casualties in June 2023, up from 271 the year before. 

(FIRE052)

The key reason for fire eruption is often not abiding with the fire regulations. In the fiscal year ending June 2023, fire and rescue services (FRSs) in England responded to 621,552 incidents, up 6.2% in 2023. Of these occurrences, 173,872 were fires, a 12% increase from the previous year. The fire safety regulations are determined by various factors which have been enlisted by the government of the UK. 

In 2017, a devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, a high-rise building in West London, killed 72 people, which was the greatest since World War II. The government promptly launched a public investigation into the fire. As a result, the government introduced fire safety regulations 2022. The revised regulations require someone in charge to give information and conduct fire safety inspections on any construction exceeding 11m (or 5 storey) with at least two living spaces. Here, we cover the A to Z guide of fire safety regulations for residential construction.

What Is A High-Rise Residential Building?

For the Regulations, a residential building is considered high-rise if the structure must be at least 18 metres above ground level, measured from the lowest ground level to the top story floor height, or seven storeys or more (excluding storeys below ground level).

What is the Fire Safety Act of 2021?

The Fire Safety Act of 2021 was suggested as an upgrade to the present Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order of 2005.

The Fire Safety Act mandates homeowners and responsibility holders for multi-occupancy residential structures to be responsible for fire safety. More specifically, those in charge must effectively manage any fire hazards associated with a building’s basic structure, Loft, walls (including doors and windows), and anything connected to the outside, such as balconies. The Fire Safety Bill also includes extra punishments, such as an unlimited fine for anybody found impersonating a fire investigator or obstructing one from performing their duties.

Fire Safety Updates

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 are applicable to all multi-occupied residential structures, regardless of height, with the exception of single-family dwellings without common spaces. These are not the same as construction codes; they apply to the “responsible person” (often the owner). Changes include data collecting, fire door surveillance, and elevator maintenance, among other things.

Building Regulations

The Building Regulations have been updated, particularly Regulations 6: Conditions for Change of Use and 7: Materials. There is a six-month transition time for these upgrades if the Initial Notice is received before December 1st and the work begins before June 1st, 2023. These only apply to England, although the Welsh Assembly may follow suit and incorporate them into their own legislation, which differs somewhat.

Who is the Responsible Person?

The landlord, freeholder, or managing agent accepts responsibility.The individual in control of the site or activity is responsible for maintaining a safe environment. The responsible person, or an appointed specialist they believe competent, must conduct a reasonable and appropriate assessment of the risks to which concerned individuals are exposed.

Building Safety Act of 2022?

The Building Safety Act (BSA) was designed to be the primary piece of law that governs fire safety during construction and maintenance.

  • Tenants and residents will now have more opportunity to express their concerns throughout renovation projects and throughout the life of a home.
  • To ensure that fire safety criteria are met during the building process, a single person or a group of people must be given statutory responsibility.
  • A new regulatory entity will monitor the implementation of safety measures in building projects, working with responsible parties and stakeholders.

Fire Safety Regulations Guide

Information to residents

The first thing that needs to be done is to inform the residents of the building about the activities to be carried out in case of fire. It is the responsibility of a “responsible person” to install the safety instructions throughout the building. Moreover, residents must be informed about the following:

  • The plan for leaving the building 
  • Gidelines for reporting a fire, including how to use 999 or 112, which address to give the fire department, etc.
  • Further guidelines to follow during fire

The Fire Safety Regulations place additional obligations on you in addition to those listed above if you are the Responsible Person for a high-rise building.

Doors

Fire doors are said to be of crucial significance in case of fire eruption. According to The Fire Safety Act 2021, Fire Doors prevent the spread of fire and smoke in buildings. Therefore, there is a responsibility to keep a check on the doors as well. Ensure that the doors are in good condition, working, and well-maintained.Moreover, all the doors must be inspected every three months.

Which doors are included?

Following doors are included in fire doors category:

  • Doors leading to staircase and lobby areas
  • Cross-corridor doors
  • Doors to electrical equipment and storage
  • Doors leading to riser shafts

How to check a door?

To make sure that a fire door is functional, consider the following steps to check the doors:

  • Open the door completely first, then release it.
  • Then allow the door to open to about 15 degrees before closing it.

In both cases, the doors must be able to close fully by overcoming any kind of friction or hindrance. Moreover, inspect the doors every 12 months to ensure they are working fine.

Signage 

Signage to assist fire and rescue services cannot be undermined. Due to the height of the building, there needs to be appropriate signage to carry out the rescue operation more effectively and smoothly. The following principles are applied to signage:

  • Every stairwell landing should have signage indicating the firefighters’ apartment number and floor.
  • Firefighters should have no trouble seeing the signage.
  • Clear visibility of the signage is required in both bright and dim light, as well as in areas where smoke or light pollution is present.

Secure information box

A secure information box most likely plays the role of a time capsule. The responsible person places all the necessary documents and permission regarding fire regulations uk in the secure information box. That box must be kept secure and protected from vandalism. The information box must have the following details:

  • The complete name, address, and phone number of the Responsible Person 
  • the name and contact information of any other person who are granted access to the building and facilities on behalf of the Responsible Person
  • A copy of the building’s floor plans and blueprint

External Walls Details

External walls are often neglected, but in Regulation 5 of the Fire Safety Legislation UK, they need to be kept in relation to the building regulations. There must be a record of the design of the external walls of the building. These details must include information about the material used in the walls. 

Moreover, these details must be provided to the local fire and rescue department. Giving responding crews useful information during a fire and aiding in operational pre-planning are the two goals of this information.

Floor Plans and Building plans

While determining fire alarm regulations for residential buildings uk, the flooring and building plan cannot be neglected.  Consequently, you have to prepare a plan for each floor of a residential high-rise building as mandated by the Fire Safety Regulations. The plan must consist of the following details: 

  • The building’s surroundings 
  • Specifics of how the building is used
  • Fire and rescue apparatus access
  • The building’s measurements
  • Details about the structure’s storey count and the number of basement levels 
  • Ports for both moist and dry-rising mains
  • The locations of any residential fire sprinkler system shut-off controls
  • Points of entry into the building
  • Smoke control system’s central controls and their location
  • The location of any firefighting shaft and main stairways in the building.
  • Any evacuation alert system’s control panel location

To make it easy, the following are the details you need to include in your building plans and flooring plans:.

Building Plans Flooring Plans
The building’s surroundings Lifts for residents
Use of buildings Lifts for firefighters
Access of fire equipments Evacuation lifts
Building measurements Inlets of dry and wet rising mains
Number of storeys Outlets of dry and wet rising mains
Inlets of dry and wet rising mains Suppression system
Outlets of dry and wet rising mains Smoke detection system
Fire sprinkler control location Individuals in the building
Information box location
Location of main stairways
Alert system location

Lifts And Essential Fire-Fighting Equipment

There must be working lifts during the fire so that the rescue team can reach the upper floors quickly. In addition to that, there must be careful consideration of the firefighting equipment present in the building.

Smoke control systems

Residential fire sprinklers and fire alarm testing in residential buildings must be conducted at equal intervals to ensure their functionality. The smoke control system must be tested once a month to ensure its proper functioning and response to smoke signals. Usually, a visual inspection will suffice to confirm that the systems and equipment are intact and have not been subjected to interference. 

Repairs

According to Regulation 7 of the Fire Safety Regulations 2022, a responsible person is responsible for carrying out routine checkups of the following fire safety equipment in high-rise residential buildings:

  • Lifts 
  • Automatic doors
  • Fire detection and alarm systems
  • Rising mains
  • Smoke control systems

Reporting fault

In the event of any faults found in any of the safety equipment, they must be resolved within 24 hours. However, if the fault is not fixed, it must be reported using the online reporting form. Once the form is completed, you will be provided with a reference number for tracking your report.

Reporting Repair

If the faults are repaired in accordance with new fire safety regulations uk within the given time constraints, it must be reported through the online form similar to fault reporting form

Final Words

Compliance with fire safety regulations is critical for the safety and well-being of people in high-rise residential structures. The destruction caused by fires, such as the fatal Grenfell Tower fire, highlights the crucial need for effective fire protection measures.

Finally, this handbook is an invaluable resource for anybody engaged in the design, construction, and maintenance of high-rise residential structures, since it simplifies regulatory compliance and improves overall fire safety. By following these rules, we can reduce the number of fire deaths and protect communities from possible calamities.

Emmanuel Nwaebo

Emmanuel Nwaebo is the Managing Director at Powerpillar Ltd and has more than 25 years experience in building construction and renovations. He has a bachelor’s in Electronics and Electrical Engineering with certification in Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST). With an experience in managing construction and renovation services for years, he is extremely passionate about property management and loves helping people find their dream property.

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