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A guide to the new Fire Safety Building Regulations (Residential)

There are several new fire safety requirements for residential buildings. Here’s what you need to know…

What’s new?

Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
  • Requirements have been introduced for all multi-occupied residential buildings, regardless of height (except single dwellings, where there are no common parts).
  • These are placed on the ‘responsible person’ (usually the owner) and are separate from Building Regulations.
  • They are relevant to all existing buildings.
  • Changes include recording information, checking fire doors, lift maintenance etc.
Building Regulations
  • Updates have been made to Regulation 6: requirements relevant to a change of use, and Regulation 7: materials. As a result, Approved Document B contains updated guidance on how to meet these regulations.
  • There is a six-month transitional period for these updates where an Initial Notice was submitted before 1 December and work commences prior to 1 June 2023.
  • These apply to England only, but the Welsh Assembly may follow suit and add them to their own regulations, which differ slightly.

What other information should guide my fire safety plans?

BS9991
  • These British Standards recommendations remained unchanged since 2015, but a new draft was issued in 2021.
  • We don’t yet know when the new draft will be published. Its cover page states: “This is a draft and must not be regarded or used as a British Standard”.
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
  • The DLUHC has published a consultation document that questions, among other things, whether buildings over 30m should have two escape staircases.
  • No implementation date or transition period is given in the document.

What do the new fire safety regulations mean in practice?

The changes can be broken down by the height of the dwelling. Height is measured from the ground level to the uppermost floor of the building (not the roof). Roof top plant areas are not considered to be a floor.

Over 11m
  • Regulation 6 previously detailed requirements for external wall construction of buildings over 15m undergoing a change of use. They now apply to buildings over 11m.
  • Non-combustible cladding and insulation are required (not the same as Regulation 7, other components can be combustible in some circumstances i.e. timber framed structures). Balconies should also be non- combustible (unless certain conditions are met). It should be noted that these requirements are different to those in Regulation 7.
  • Secure Information boxes for firefighters are required.
  • There are requirements for sprinklers and wayfinding for the fire service (introduced in 2020).
Over 18m
  • Regulation 7 states that external wall construction (not just the façade) of residential buildings over 18m must be entirely non-combustible. It was amended in December 2022 to include hotels and extends the list of exemptions to include fibre optic cables and low level awnings.
  • Evacuation Alert Systems are now required according to BS 8629-2019, Approved Document B 2022 amendments.
  • Since July 2021, new planning applications are required for higher risk buildings to go through Gateway 1 (The Building Safety Regulator is a statutory consultee).
  • Currently, there are proposals for higher risk buildings to require building control approval from the BSR prior to commencing work (Gateway 2) and an Occupation Certificate from the BSR prior to occupation. The consultation proposes Gateway 2 and 3 to be implemented in October 2023, with a six-month transitional period for projects with an Initial Notice in place before October 2023 and commenced prior to April 2024 not to require Gateway 2 approval from the BSR.

NOTE: a definition of commencement is contained in the consultation which differs from the transitional provisions for new and amended Approved Documents.

Over 30m
  • A consultation proposes amending Building Regulations to require a minimum of two escape stairs for residential buildings above this height. This is part of a wider fire consultation (consultation period 23 December 2022 – 17 March 2023).
Over 50m
  • According to the DLUHC, neither Approved Document B nor the current published British Standards are appropriate for the design of buildings higher than 50m.
  • These are termed “Very Tall Buildings” and require a detailed fire engineering analysis. Sweco considers this necessitates a peer reviewed fire engineering design.

Our Building Compliance experts can support projects from the very start of the development process, ensuring fire safety solutions work hand-in-hand with architectural plans.