Fire protection solutions manufacturer, Advanced, has welcomed the amended Approved Document B of the Building Regulations as a “positive step in the right direction to improve fire safety in new high-rise residential buildings”.
Published on 1 June 2022, Part B (Fire Safety) offers new improvements to fire safety guidance to ensure tall buildings are made safer in England, as part of a wider package of reforms. A ‘significant’ addition to the document is the mandatory requirement for new residential developments over 18m to incorporate an evacuation alert system, offering new clarity for those involved in the design or construction of residential developments.
An evacuation alert system is vital to help fire and rescue services inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy during an incident. This gives fire and rescue services an additional tool to use on the ground, alongside existing methods of evacuation, improving safety for residents. To comply with the amended Part B, an evacuation alert system should be provided in accordance with BS 8629 Code of Practice for the design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in England.
Amended Part B is designed to meet recommendations from Phase One of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Currently the Part B requirement for an evacuation alert system only covers new build high-rise residential buildings. However, since the Grenfell Tower Inquiry also recommends evacuation alert systems for high-rise residential buildings “already in existence”1, further regulation may follow.
Ken Bullock, Business Development Manager for Evacuation Alert Systems at Advanced, said: “We welcome the amended Part B of the Building Regulations and the clarity it gives when it comes to fire safety. An evacuation alert system gives fire and rescue services a valuable tool which allows them to evacuate residents at risk in a safer, managed way. At Advanced our EvacGo Evacuation Alert System is designed as an easy way to meet BS 8629:19 and so can it offer peace of mind to those responsible for a building that by choosing this system they are complying with Building Regulations.
“We appreciate that new regulation can be confusing, so not only have we carefully designed the EvacGo to take away the hard work for building owners, end-users and importantly frontline fire and rescue services, we also offer a CPD presentation on evacuation planning and BS 8629 Code of Practice. The CPD is suitable for consultants, fire risk assessors and anyone else who needs a better understanding of the requirements of the British Standards Institution code of practice BS 8629.”
The amended Part B forms a portion of a wider update to tighten Building Regulations and provide clearer fire safety rules for the design and construction of residential developments. The Building Safety Act names HSE as the new Building Safety Regulator in England and as such will enforce compliance of the Building Regulations. The Building Safety Act will place formal responsibilities on those involved in the design, construction of any buildings to ensure compliance with building regulations and will give the regulator greater powers to prosecute for non-compliance. It will be the duty of the people responsible for a building to put in place and maintain a golden thread of information, with their responsibility continuing for the life of the building.
Other key changes within Part B include the requirement for all new residential buildings over 11m to include a Secure Information Box that will give fire and rescue services access to important details about a building in the event of a fire. In addition, the government has introduced tougher standards for external wall materials on new medium-rise blocks of flats.
Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report, Vol 4, June 2017, Page 777 section 33.22d. https://assets.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/GTI%20-%20Phase%201%20full%20report%20-%20volume%204.pdf