The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Means of Escape – Part 115

September 13, 2021 11:16 am

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 114, LWF discussed means of escape and the idea of alternative escape routes. In part 115, we consider the relevant design codes for means of escape.

The design of means of escape provision for a building should be as per one of a number of codes of practice.

BS 9999 ‘Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings – Code of Practice’ was published in 2008, when it superseded much of BS 5588 ‘Fire Precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings’. It primarily concerns new builds or alterations/extensions to existing buildings.

Guides produced by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) in support of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in England and Wales and the equivalent guides produced by the Scottish Executive for Scotland.

Guidance is also provided by the MHCLG, Scottish Executive and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland in support of the Building Regulations in the respective countries. This guidance is intended for new builds, material alterations and extensions to existing buildings.

There is also more specific guidance available for certain occupancies. For example, the Department of Health produced the Health and Technical Memorandum (HTM) guidance documents which relate to means of escape, fire safety and fire engineering in hospitals. This is known as the ‘Firecode’ set of documents.

While it might seem that there are so many documents all dealing with the same issue – means of escape from buildings on fire, there is little confusion and crossover between them as many relate to specific types of buildings and occupancies.

Equally, the British Standards codes and guidance supporting the building regulations refer to new buildings and are used by building designers and building control bodies, whereas the MHCLG and Scottish Executive guidance documents apply to existing buildings and tend to be relevant to fire and rescue authorities and any other authority enforcing the legislation in existing buildings.

In part 116 of this series, LWF will discuss how the means of escape codes are applied and look at alternatives to prescriptive codes. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 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.

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