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Fire Protection Association welcomes new updates to Approved Document B

29 May 2020

THE GOVERNMENT has announced the implementation date for changes to Approved Document B. From 26 November, all new build residential flats above 11 metres must be fitted with automatic fire sprinklers. The Fire Protection Association welcomes this decision given the increasing use of combustible materials in the structure, insulation and cladding of buildings.

However, the FPA feels that this change must not allow for a reduction in passive fire protection measures within the residential environment or other safety management systems. The fire protection and built environment stakeholders must seize this opportunity to allow passive and active measures to come together to protect people, property and the environment.

Work must now be done to improve the installation standards and approval schemes for residential sprinkler systems to reduce the likelihood of potential escape of water issues. Designers and installers must be third party accredited and trained, and the approval schemes regularly reviewed.

Demonstrating the value and necessity for sprinkler systems has been challenging, and the FPA would like the systems installed in residential buildings to be as resilient as those used for commercial protection, albeit with a life safety remit.

Full details of the changes to Approved Document B can be found here.

RISCAuthority, the UK research scheme administered by the FPA, has recently published a Technical Guidance Note for residential sprinkler systems to BS 9251. The document, which can be downloaded for free, was created to help improve residential sprinkler system performance and resilience, as well as reduce the likelihood of unwanted escape of water events.

Dr Jim Glockling, technical director of the FPA and the RISCAuthority, commented: “In situations where occupant evacuation and fire service attendance might be delayed due to mobility or building complexity, sprinkler systems are known to save lives where smoke detection alone is insufficient.”

With fire sprinkler systems now becoming commonplace within the domestic dwelling environment, there is a need to embed best plumbing practice into the Approved Document G [ADG] (sanitation) to sit aside recommendations for household hot and cold water systems.

Further to this, an insurer-augmented version of ADG is due for publication in June 2020.