The LWF Blog
Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fixed Fire-fighting Systems – Part 4April 20, 2017 3:57 pm
In this blog series for those who work in Facilities Management and have an interest in or responsibility for Fire Safety, we have been recently discussing the provision of sprinkler systems in residential multi-occupancy buildings. In part 4, we will continue by looking at prescriptive codes of practice and how alternative solutions might be used.
A fire suppression system can be used as a compensatory fire protection feature in cases where a departure from prescriptive codes of practice is required. The idea is that regulations are met through the prescriptive methods given in Approved Document B, as part of the Building Regulations 2010, in England and Wales, or by any other fire engineered and suitable method which meets or exceeds the standards required. The flexibility offered is actually mentioned in Approved Document B which offers various design freedoms in situations where sprinkler systems are installed.
Sprinklers can sometimes be used in lieu of an alternative escape route in those buildings where according to the regulations, at least two escape routes must exist. The inclusion of sprinklers in such a case would mean that, for instance, only one stairway would need to be provided instead of two and could completely transform the design concept of the building at architect stage.
From the point of view of residential care homes, the inclusion of a suitable sprinkler system can mean that bedroom doors do not have to be self-closing, and this can be a practical advantage to prospective residents who may find dealing with self-closing doors a challenge due to limited mobility.
Looking now at the relevant design codes currently in use, the regulation which has evolved from the original (BS 5306-2) is now BS EN 12845:2015 Fixed firefighting systems. Automatic sprinkler systems. Design, installation and maintenance which deals with the design, installation and maintenance of sprinkler systems in non-domestic premises.
The LPC Rules represent Insurer’s requirements for a sprinkler installation and even when the system is not relevant to insurance (not a likely situation) or acknowledged by the insurer in premium rating, many sprinkler installations are designed in accordance with the current LPC Rules. The current LPC Rules incorporate BS EN 12845, linked above, and include related technical bulletins and further guidance on correct interpretation of the regulation.
For domestic and residential buildings, the current design code is BS 9251. The requirements contained within are significantly less onerous than in BS EN 12845. It applies to properties such as houses, flats, residential homes, boarding houses and multiple-occupation premises and even transportable homes, all less than 20m in height.
On occasion, it is possible to find a building in the UK which has sprinklers adhering to the design codes of the U.S., in cases where it is owned by an American company. The relevant design code is NFPA Standard 13.
In the next blog we will look at what makes up a sprinkler system. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.