Building Regulations in England
Part B - Fire safety

The Building Regulations Approved Document B relates to the fire safety provisions required in buildings.

It is concerned with the means of escape from buildings, internal and external fire spread and access for the fire service to fight fire. The document requirements are in the event of a fire, the occupants are given sufficient warning and allowing them to escape to a place of safety. The building is designed to resist collapse for a sufficient time to allow evacuation, suitable provisions preventing the spread of the fire within and between buildings and suitable provisions for fire fighting.

What this means is that the building is constructed under part B requirements are ensuring the health and safety of the building occupants and visitors and ensure fires can be tackled and put out safely

The requirements can be found in the communities Approved Document Part B, which are as follows;

fire safety part b

Vol 1 - Dwelling houses

  • B1 – Means of escape and warning
  • B2 – Internal fire spread (linings)
  • B3 – Internal Fire spread (structure)
  • B4 – External fire spread
  • B5 – Access and facilities for the fire service

Vol 2 - Buildings other than dwelling houses

  • B1 – Means of escape and warning
  • B2 – Internal fire spread (linings)
  • B3 – Internal Fire spread (structure)
  • B4 – External fire spread
  • B5 – Access and facilities for the fire service

Recent Changes

The last time Part B was changed was back in 2006, with further amendments in 2010 edition, replacing the previous 1992 edition. One change was the introduction of two volumes, dwelling houses and buildings other than dwelling houses, where previously the 1992 had one version. The main changes made, are as follows;

Vol 1 – Dwelling houses

  • The requirement was expanded including fire alarm and fire detection systems
  • New guidance on section 1 and been expanded to loft conversions and buildings other than dwellings
  • B1 alternative approaches guidance was expanded and moved to section 3
  • B1 door widths was amended and aligned to part m requirements
  • B1 means of escape was changed for storeys no more than 4.5 mtr above ground level required to have emergency egress windows
  • B1 means of escape was changed for single escape routes and exits to be increased from 50 persons to 60 persons
  • B1 means of escape was changed in regards to the 45 degree rule
  • B1 means of escape was changed with the modifying of mixed uses requirements
  • New door fastening guidance
  • Escape lighting guidance in table 9 in regards to toilet accommodation
  • Shop store room guidance in regards to the enclosed fire resisting construction

Part B2

  • Guidance was provided on the use of air supported structures and structures covered with a flexible and/or PTFE based material

Part B3

  • Guidance was provided on the need to encase in fire resisting construction places of special fire hazard
  • Guidance was provided on the maximum compartment dimensions being extended to single storey schools and shop/commercial purpose group

Part B4

  • Roof light tables were separated to give guidance on class 3 and TP (a)/ (b) plastic roofs. Provisions to class 3 roof lights on industrial buildings were modified

Part B5

  • Guidance was provided in regards to vehicle access for single family houses and for blocks of flats and maisonettes
  • Table 20 was amended to increase 9mtr to 11mtr
  • Personnel access modifications were made at which fire fighting shafts are required.
  • Guidance was provided in regards to fire fighting in blocks of flats and maisonettes

Vol 2 – Buildings other than dwellings

  • New regulation 38 was introduced to ensure information is recorded to assist the eventual owner/occupier/employer to meet the statutory duties under the regulatory reform (fire safety) order 2005
  • New guidance was provided on the management of premises to ensure they are realistic
  • New statement was provided to clarify the acceptance of certification schemes by building control bodies as evidence of compliance
  • New requirement allowing the use of fire sprinkler systems in accordance with BS 9251:2005
  • Alternative approach requirements were highlighted in the new edition in additional to ensure compliance. Design of hospitals and similar health care premises to be in accordance to HTM 05 firecode requirements. Design of schools should be in accordance to BB100 requirements

Future Changes

At the end of January 2012, the Department for Communities and Local Government, released several documents where four sections, covers a number of changes to the building regulations regime and building control system.

According to the consultation paper, it is proposed to amend part B, to clarify new requirement for decorative wall coverings and possible changes to local acts

These proposed changes cover the Building Regulations in England, where previously the application of the Building regulations included Wales, since 31 December 2011, and the powers for making Building Regulations in relation to Wales were transferred to the Welsh Ministers.
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