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NFCC welcomes clarity of Approved Document B

17 October 2018

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has welcomed the proposed clarification of Approved Document B, but has underlined the importance of the full technical review which is still to come.

The Government has committed that a call for evidence on a full technical review of Approved Document B will be announced this autumn.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher noted, “Making the approved documents more user friendly is a positive first step, however it is essential we do not lose sight of the more detailed review - which is long overdue.”

“Additionally, we hope the Government does not lose sight of the importance for people who are interpreting the guidance to have appropriate competence. We are urging the Government to act on all the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her independent review.”  

This includes a commitment to regularly review the guidance to ensure construction methods and techniques are not out of date, which potentially puts lives at risk.

As part of the full review in the autumn, NFCC will 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.

Terry McDermott, NFCC lead for Automatic Water Suppression Systems added “Sprinkler requirements in Wales and Scotland well 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.”

Mark Hardingham, Chair of the NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee added: “People must feel safe in their homes, therefore urgent action needs to be taken to improve the way buildings are designed, built and maintained through their lifecycle.”

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