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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Structural Fire Protection – Part 151

May 30, 2022 11:28 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 150, LWF looked at why sprinkler systems were added to the Building Regulations in 2000. In part 151, we will continue discussing structural fire protection and compartmentation.

In England and Wales, local acts may previously have specified maximum compartment sizes for large storage buildings in order to prevent major fires. However, in 2012, The Department for Communities and Local Government undertook an impact assessment which was titled ‘Removing inconsistency in local fire protection standards’. Following this, the local acts were repealed from 1st Jan 2013.

The matter of compartment sizes for all relevant buildings is addressed in Approved Document B.

While the term compartmentation normally refers to the relatively large compartments required by building regulations, technically, the enclosure of any sized space in fire-resisting construction would make it a compartment in its own right. Upon occasion, small spaces such as server rooms are contained within their own fire-resisting compartment due to the requirements of the building owner, occupier or insurer.

The BS 5588 series of codes contains recommendations that high-hazard areas are enclosed in fire-resisting construction. The period of fire resistance allocated to an area will vary depending on its purpose, and therefore the level of fire risk involved. For example, it may be 30 minutes for kitchens, workshops, storage rooms etc. 60 minutes may be necessary for places where flammable liquids are stored or used, for large stores and covered loading bays.

There are differences between the recommendations in Approved Document B and the BS 5588 series, such as the necessity of 60 minute fire resistance as a minimum for boiler rooms, generator rooms etc. in the British standards, but only 30 minute protection in Approved Document B.

In practical terms, the period of fire resistance required will be based on various factors and the most appropriate choice for the building and occupancy in question.

Life safety concerns may require fire resistant construction to separate areas where people may sleep from associated ‘common areas’. This may apply to hotels and boarding houses, but equally, it may apply to houses in multiple occupation.

In part 152 of this series, LWF will continue to discuss structural fire protection and construction. 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.

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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