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Fire chiefs welcome building safety plans

29 November 2018

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has broadly welcomed announcements that the Government plans to control the use of combustible cladding, but expressed concerns that key aspects need to go further.

NFCC Chair, Roy Wilsher, is supportive of plans to ban dangerous cladding, but noted “I am disappointed this ban does not go further and apply to buildings of any height. Buildings below 18 metres should be afforded the same protection as other buildings.

“This threshold is a historical height which does not reflect modern firefighting equipment and practices. As such, we hope the full review of Approved Document B the Government has committed to will properly reconsider the appropriateness of the 18 metre threshold. We believe the ban should extend not just to hospitals, care homes, and student accommodation, but to all buildings that house vulnerable people, such as specialised housing.”

“We look forward to the call for evidence on the full technical review of Approved Document B. We will also be calling for improvements to sprinkler requirements, firefighting access and other provisions needed to help make communities safer, such as technical requirements for fire hydrants”.

NFCC lead for Automatic Water Suppression Systems Terry McDermott added, “Sprinkler requirements in Wales and Scotland surpass those in England, including domestic sprinklers in new social housing developments and suppression systems in new homes.  NFCC would like to see English standards increased to at least the equivalent to these, improving consistency across the UK.”

NFCC recommends that:

  • Sprinklers become a requirement in all new high-rise residential structures above 18 metres.
  • Student accommodation should be included.
  • Where high-rise residential buildings currently exceed 30 metres there should be a requirement to retrofit sprinklers when these buildings are scheduled to be refurbished.
  • Sprinklers should be retrofitted where high-rise residential buildings over 30 metres are served by a single staircase, regardless of future refurbishment.