Response to government consultation – Key recommendations made

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has submitted evidence to the government’s technical consultation on Approved Document B.

This includes guidance on building regulations for England, covering fire safety.

The key recommendations for minimum prescriptive requirements as suggested by the RIBA are:

  • Sprinklers – a requirement for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems to be provided in all new and converted residential buildings (as already required in Wales), and installed in existing residential buildings above 18m whenever significant refurbishment or alteration work is carried out.
  • Alternative means of escape – in new multiple occupancy residential buildings, a requirement for at least two staircases, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or more than three storeys above the ground level storey (as required for commercial buildings).
  • Centrally addressable fire alarms – a requirement for centrally addressable fire alarm systems in all new and converted multiple occupancy residential buildings and in existing residential buildings above 18m whenever significant refurbishment or alteration work is carried out.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy illustrates that fire spreads rapidly, a reliance on the “stay put” policy can be devastating.

Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, Jane Duncan says, “We simply cannot allow buildings to continue to be built to regulations and guidance that everyone, including the government, acknowledges are deeply flawed.”

“All residents should have the right to the added protection offered by sprinkler systems, to know if a fire breaks out in their building, and to be safely evacuated if necessary. This means the guidance must change to ensure a better warning system and an alternative means of escape.”

Source, RIBA: https://bit.ly/2NGe5RL

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