Approved Document B, Regulation 38 and Fire Safety Engineering

By Liam Fischer

If a new building is in the development or design phase – or alterations are being made to an existing structure – Building Regulations approval is required. It is the responsibility of the designers of the project at the very outset to set the tone for fire safety throughout the duration of the build.

Building Regulations in England and Wales are put into place to ensure precautionary measures become legal requirements with the aim of protecting life.

In this blog, we’re going to explore the main requirements within these regulations and consider why communications and the exchange of knowledge between all involved is absolutely crucial.

Approved Document B

Building Regulations determine the compulsory stipulations that must be achieved in the construction of buildings and approved documentation exists to offer guidance on how these requirements must be met.

Part B of the Building Regulations specifically covers the fire safety concerns within and around buildings. The approved documents for Part B outlines the fire safety precautions that must be met in order to be sure of the safety of the occupants, firefighters and anyone within the perimeter of the building should there be a fire.

Approved Document B is divided into two parts:

Both parts cover the requirements in relation to:

  • Means of warning and escape.
  • Restricting or preventing the spread to neighbouring buildings.
  • Restricting or preventing the spread of fire within the building.
  • Providing access and facilities for firefighters.

Regulation 38 & Fire Safety

The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (RRFSO) is applicable to most premises, apart from domestic premises occupied as single private dwellings. The RRFSO does apply where it’s a legal requirement, and the building control body will consult with local fire services to assess compliance with the Building Regulations.

Regulation 38 requires, that where RRFSO is applicable:

“the person carrying out the work shall give fire safety information to the responsible person not later than the date of completion of the work, or the date of occupation of the building or extension, whichever is the earlier.”

As a consequence of the Grenfell fire disaster, these regulations must be complied with when handing over the fire safety information at project completion.

Regulation 38 refers to the information relating to fire safety design features, such as emergency lighting and a means for escape, for instance. Only then is the responsible person deemed to have been given the sufficient information to undertake a detailed fire risk assessment on the premises. The responsible party for this is usually an employee in the workplace or someone who is in control of the premises, such as a building manager for example.

The resulting fire risk assessment can be disputed at any time, and should it be found to not meet the requirements of the RRFSO, it is possible that the design team can be held accountable for not correctly communicating the fire safety information upon completion, which as we mentioned is required by Regulation 38.

Ultimately, there are a variety of roles involved in handing over the necessary information, including the initial design team and the operator of the premises. Even at the very outset of a build, the designers must identify any fire risks to people that may come to fruition throughout the construction process, as well as outline the correct provisions that must be present at all times.

To ensure absolute compliance, many architectural, development and construction companies will assign specialist fire engineers to inform and support during the project to ensure there is no chance of missing design features or key fire strategies.

Fully Compliant Fire Engineering Designs

No two buildings are ever the same, which is why it’s such a good idea to employ a fire engineer to bring detailed experience and guidance to your project, as well as in-depth knowledge of standards and legislation.

Fire safety engineering will help to minimise any risk and the impact a fire can have within a building in order to improve resilience and safety. This also allows architects and construction workers who are striving for innovation to focus on their job, while ensuring fire safety is in hand.

If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered in this blog, or you’re interested in our industry-leading fire prevention software, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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Liam Fischer | Customer Support Technician

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