The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Safety Legislation – Part 7

August 19, 2019 1:08 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 6, we discussed Building Regulation B5, which concerns itself with access to the building and any other measures to assist the fire service in their duties and relates only to life safety concerns rather than property protection. In part 7, we will continue looking at regulation B5.

As mentioned in part 6, the Building Regulations are accompanied by practical directions on how to achieve the standards in the form of Approved Document B (ADB). These are known as prescriptive solutions and while the standards in the Building Regulations are statutory, the method of achieving the indicated level of fire safety can be either prescriptive or an alternative designed solution.

The fact that the Building Regulations relate only to life safety and not to protection of property has, in the past, led to some concessions in building standards which are now largely rectified by ADB. For instance, the fire-resistance of some compartments of unlimited size in single-storey buildings was acceptable even at very low levels because the regulations only insisted that they remained tenable for long enough to evacuate all building occupants. However, this concession allowed fire to spread and grow and led to the collapse of a number of large, uncompartmented single-storey retail units. ADB does advocate limitation of compartment sizes in such buildings now. It is still the case that no limit is suggested for other single-storey occupancies, but limits are in place relating to compartment sizes in all multi-storey buildings other than offices and car parks for light vehicles.

Once a building is constructed, the legislatory control for fire safety, for all buildings aside from dwellings, is passed to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  There are certain conditions where the Building Regulations would come into play once more, such as any ‘material alterations’ to a building after initial construction. This can be interpreted as any alteration to the building which would adversely affect its fire safety provision, such as the removal of walls, varying ceiling height, changing access routes etc. Such proposed alterations must be approved by the local authority building control or approved inspector.

LWF will continue this blog series in part 8 by beginning to look at the relevant Building Regulations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 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 0800 410 1130.


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.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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