Fundamental changes in legislation to improve the standards of building and fire safety is being brought forward by Government so that people will be safer and will feel safer in their homes. Regent Fire Consultants are well placed to assist with the transition.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy on 14 June 2017, an independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety was conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt. The independent review found that the regulatory system for high-rise and complex buildings was not fit for purpose and that reform was needed to building safety legislation and the guidance supplementing it. This approach will ultimately drive culture change and the right behaviours within the construction and fire sector. Buildings falling into the category of ‘Higher Risk Buildings’ will be regulated under the new legislative regime.
The intention is to regulate multi-occupied residential buildings and not those which fall into the ‘commercial’ or ‘other structures’ categories. However, the Bill does adopt a broad definition of “building”. This will be so that any type of building can be brought into the scope of the regulation by specific reference to the building’s size, design, use, purpose or other characteristic, allowing the regime to be flexible in the future. The new regime will start by defining a higher risk building. This is a building which contains two or more dwellings (i.e. house, flat or serviced apartment), two or more rooms for residential purposes (e.g. supported accommodation) or student accommodation. These buildings must also meet the height condition, such that:
The floor surface of the building’s top occupied storey is 18 metres or more above ground level, or
The building contains 7 or more storeys (ignoring any storey which is below ground level).
If the building you are responsible for falls into this category (whether existing or proposed new build) it will be subject to the new regime.
The new regulatory regime will involve ‘Gateway’ points at the planning, design and construction stages of a project. These points are decision stages whereby the project will be stopped until it can be demonstrated that each regulatory requirement has been satisfied at that stage. Once all the requirements have been met, the project can move to the next gateway point.
This stage is the planning stage, whereby a Fire Statement will be required covering planning requirements such as water supplies for firefighting and Fire and Rescue Service Access. Planning Gateway 1 requirements came into effect from 1 August 2021.
This is the building control approval stage where full plans must be deposited demonstrating that all applicable building regulations requirements have been met. This will include a statement of approach outlining the proposed guidance documents/solutions to be used in order to satisfy each building regulation requirement. A Fire and Emergency File covering the key fire and structural information and strategies will be required along with a Construction Control Plan (to ensure compliance during the construction phase).
Prior to occupation, this stage allows for control in ensuring that all as-built data is available including key information about building safety measures and that design strategies are in place. To maintain the ‘Golden Thread’ of information, the prescribed documentation and sign off (e.g. building control approval) required at Gateways 1 and 2 will need to be in place along with confirmation that the relevant information has been handed over to the building owner.
At Regent Fire Consultants, we can support duty holders in fulfilling their duties through the ‘Gateway’ process and throughout the lifecycle of the building. We can assist with preparation of the Fire Statement, provide the necessary fire safety building control design information, prepare Safety Case reports for new and existing buildings and produce resident engagement strategies.
One of our key strengths is understanding the requirements of regulators. Therefore, we can ensure that the process is as smooth a transition as possible carrying out dialogue with regulatory authorities and presenting your project to the Building Safety Regulator.
As part of the planning application there is a requirement to submit a Fire Statement. Fire Statements support fire safety issues that are relevant to land use planning matters in relation to site layout, access and facilities for the Fire and Rescue Service, spaces between buildings and external wall materials. The information within the fire statement must be specific and relevant to the development and be proportionate to the complexity, type and scale of the project.
A digital Fire and Emergency File will be required for each High Risk Building which records the prescribed information as part of the ‘Golden Thread’ of information. This process builds on the current requirements under Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations for handing over relevant building information to the building’s end user. Based on this information, a Safety Case Report will need to be produced.
There will be a statutory requirement for the ‘Accountable Person’ (person with legal responsibility for the building) to provide a ‘Safety Case Report’ for High Risk Buildings under their control. The ‘Accountable Person’ will need to register and apply for the building assurance certificate and will need to demonstrate that all the relevant information and documentation is in place in order to satisfy the Building Safety Regulator.
The Safety Case Report is a document which demonstrates how building safety risks are being identified, mitigated and managed on an ongoing basis and will need to be reviewed regularly. The building’s fire risk assessment (as required under fire safety legislation) should form part of the Safety Case Report. During the construction stages, Safety Case reviews will be undertaken at the Gateway stages.
For existing High Risk Buildings there will also be a requirement for a Safety Case Report to be provided. This can be a difficult process especially where there is no building safety information (misplaced during the lifetime of the building). As well as assisting with the preparation of a Safety Case Report, we can develop an as-built fire strategy for the building which will help inform the building’s Safety Case Report.
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Company Registration Number: 691808
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Our office in Galway, Ireland is:
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Company Registration Number: 691808
VAT number: IE3757860GH