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Approved Document B Fire Safety Guide

Digest authored by Sweco Building Control

What is Approved Document B?

Also referred to simply as ‘Part B’, this government document is designed to give guidance on fire precautions relating to the wider Building Regulations in England. Collectively these must be adhered to in order to keep people and premises safe – including occupants or residents, visitors and fire-fighting services as well as those in the vicinity of premises.

Standards addressed include escape/evacuation, isolation of a blaze, building access and overall detection/extinguishing systems.

Amendments to Approved Document Part B

The Government has released the amendments to Approved Document B to come into force on 1st December 2022 with a transition period of six months, meaning to not be controlled by the amendments you will need to have made your building regulation application before that date and commenced on site prior to 1st June 2023.

The key changes include:

  • The inclusion of Hotels in the definition of relevant buildings with regards to Regulation 7(2), this means hotels over 18m in height will have to be constructed with external walls materials attaining A2s1d0 or better.
  • The exemptions to Regulation 7(2), contained in Regulation 7(3), have been clarified to overcome issues with roof junctions to external walls, the transition from exempt below ground walls to the controlled above ground external wall giving a 300mm zone to affect the transition and the installation of fibre optics.
  • The requirement for cavity trays in relevant buildings, other than those with masonry external walls to be non-combustible has ben dispensed with for 18 months from 1st June 2022, if you choose to use combustible cavity trays their acceptability will still be subject to analysis of the combustible components specified in the external wall in  terms of size, number, position and orientation to make sure requirement B4 is met.
  • ACM with a unmodified polyethylene core has been banned from use on all buildings
  • Guidance for the construction of external walls serving buildings over 11m in height has been included in the approved document which restrict the use of combustible materials.
  • Residential buildings over 18m will need to have a Evacuation Alert System to BS 8629
  • Secure information boxes for the Fire and Rescue service will now need to be provided in flats with a top floor over 11m in height.
  • Basements serving residential flats, required to have a fire fighting shaft by virtue of the guidance in Diagram 15.2, that are over 900m2 should be provided with at least two firefighting shafts.

There are also a raft of other detailed changes that Sweco Building Standards is currently analysing. We will will report on our findings here when we have concluded our consideration – but please contact Neil Badley in the meantime with any pressing enquiries or concerns.

For further guidance or to discuss your fire compliance requirements, contact our Building Control team below.