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Building compliance authority welcomes “vital” new sprinkler threshold

15 June 2020

SAFETY AND building compliance authority Bureau Veritas has pledged its full support for the Government’s recent introduction of a new 11 metre threshold for sprinklers, asserting that such a move marks a vital step forward in the journey towards enhanced fire safety regulation.

On 26 May, the Government released the inaugural phase of its Fire Safety Approved Document Work Plan, the important implementation plan based on Dame Judith Hackitt’s report recommendations designed to create a new regulatory framework for building safety.

As part of this, the Government announced updates to the Building Regulations in Approved Document B whereby the current trigger height for sprinklers in new residential flats will be replaced from 30 metres (typically ten floors) to just 11 metres (ie typically four floors). This significant reform means that any new flat developments with a floor at the new threshold will be required to be fitted with a sprinkler or alternative fire suppression system.

Importantly, the requirement, which comes into effect on 26 November this year, will only apply to projects lodged before this time and that have not started ahead of the official cut-off date of 29 January 2021. Alongside this, the Government also recently announced the new requirement for wayfinding signage in flat developments in stairs and lobbies to assist firefighting operations.

Looking ahead, further regulatory reforms are expected to follow later in the year to include the consideration of evacuation alert systems and, potentially, the introduction of a new 11 metres height requirement for firefighting shafts as opposed to the current 18 metres.

Full support

Andy Lowe, technical and training director for Bureau Veritas Building Control, commented: “Following an ongoing consultation period, we are in full support of the Government’s decision to considerably lower the threshold height for the provision of sprinklers in new flat complexes, while also including the provision of storey identification signage in staircases to assist wayfinding for firefighters.”

Further, Lowe stated: “While these may seem relatively simple changes, they are incredibly important ones which will go a long way in helping to ensure that residents are safer in their homes and that more adequate preventative measures are in place should an incident occur.”

In response to the new Approved Document B Fire Safety, Bureau Veritas is holding a specialist webinar specifically designed to support the industry in understanding the changes. To be held on 17 June, the free-to-view webinar will see the business’ expert construction consultancy team cover a range of important fire updates covering the combustible cladding ban, assessments in lieu of testing, new cladding requirements and more.

Lowe added: “Inherently, amid the ongoing transition towards the creation of a much more holistic and robust future fire safety framework, there will be a lot of change for the building industry to come to terms with. As such, and as part of our ongoing commitment to support customers operating in this sector, both existing and new, we have put together a new webinar designed to provide a quick and convenient overview of the latest changes and what they mean for them. We would urge as many customers as possible to attend what promises to be an incredibly valuable educational session.”

*To register your interest in the upcoming ‘Approved Document B: Understanding Fire Safety Changes’ webinar visit https://bureauveritas.zoom.us/webinar/register/1015907514985/WN_VbUnwR1PTFSE-UkgeGA6vQ