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The Building Regulations 2010
The requirements of Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations 2010 are those formerly covered under Regulation 16b and relate to the fire safety information to be provided by the person carrying out work. This requirement has been around for a number of years however there is still confusion with regards to what is required to demonstrate compliance and often the standard of information provided varies greatly.
Regulation 38 applies to a building that is erected or extended, or has undergone a material change of use, and where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RR(FS)O) applies to that building or extension. For these buildings Regulation 38 requires that fire safety information be provided to the Responsible Person, as defined under the RR(FS)O, to assist them in fulfilling their duties in respect to the fire safety for the building.
The information provided should contain details of all fire safety precautions and design assumptions to a level of accuracy which is suitable to allow the effective ongoing maintenance and operation of the building. Information should be provided no later than the date of completion or first occupation of the building and Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors should not provide completion certificates or final notices until they are reasonably satisfied that Regulation 38 has been complied with.
The exact nature and detail of the information required to comply with the requirements of Regulation 38 will depend upon the complexity and nature of the building; and a ‘case by case’ approach is recommended within the guidance. It may be that this ‘case by case’ approach has lead to the inconsistency we see today in the standard of information provided.
Why It’s Important
The way a building has been designed plays an important part in the way it is then used and the design assumptions made can often restrict the use of a building or its ability to be effectively used for a purpose it was not designed for. This is true for the structural, architectural and services design and is equally the case for fire safety. Understanding the assumptions and key components of the design can be vitally important in being able to effectively manage the ongoing fire safety in the building. This is particularly important where buildings utilise fire engineering designs based upon compensatory features and/or management requirements. A failure to understand the fire safety design for a building could result in inappropriate use of the building and increased life safety risks should a fire occur.
The fire safety information required by Regulation 38 should also inform future fire risk assessments and allows the building owners/users to identify where changes to the building arrangements may affect the fire safety precautions.
What Information Should Be Provided?
Guidance on the type of information which should be provided to comply with Regulation 38 is given in Appendix G of Approved Document B – Volume 2 (ADB). The ADB guidance is divided into two parts giving recommendations on the type of information required for ‘Simple’ and ‘Complex’ buildings.
For simple buildings the guidance recommends that only basic information is required. This information could take the form of a detailed as built plan of the building showing locations of the fire safety precautions in place, such as:
· Means of Escape & Signage
· Compartmentation & Fire Doors
· Automatic Fire Detection & Emergency Lighting
· Fire Service Provisions & Fire Fighting Equipment
· Sprinklers & Smoke Control Systems
· Hazard Areas
Any assumptions relating to the maintenance and management of the fire safety precautions should also be identified.
For complex buildings a more detailed record of fire precautions and fire strategy should be provided. This information will not only include as built drawings detailing all of the passive and active fire precautions in the building; but also information relating to any assumptions and analysis that has been conducted as part of the design. Design restrictions on the use of the building, fire safety management assumptions and procedures must be identified and understood.
BS9999 recommends that compilation of a Fire Safety Manual be started during the design stages of a project and progressed until it can be handed over to the Responsible Person on completion of the project. The intention is that this would then provide a valuable record of the design process and the decisions/compromises that have been made.
From our experiences both as Fire Engineers involved in the design of new buildings as well as Fire Risk Assessors; it is often the case that very little information is transferred to the occupier or that what is handed over is in an unordered state that is difficult to follow and is of no real value to those that would use it.
The types of documents and what they get called can vary depending on the project and what has been asked for by the Approving Authority, as a minimum we would recommend that most medium to large developments be provided with a fully developed Fire Strategy, As Built Fire Plans, a Preliminary or Pre-occupation Fire Risk Assessment as well as design documents and maintenance schedules for all fire safety systems in the building. This information then forms the basis for the Fire Safety Manual for the building.
With an ever increasing number of engineered buildings and new construction technologies being developed it becomes even more important that the requirements of Regulation 38 be complied with and that the standard of information provided to the occupiers/Responsible Person is of a high standard.
This bulletin has been written by Richard Sherwood BEng (Hons)