fire safety strategies
Building regulations were introduced seriously in the UK
following the great fire of London (1666), and applied mainly to the
building of private dwellings, so after three and a half centuries one
would expect that we would be living in dwellings which protected us from
We are dying by the hundred every year, partly due to our
own carelessness and ignorance of fire, but also partly (in our opinion)
due to the failings of building regulations guidance.
The ethos is that there should always be an alternative escape
route in case of fire. Good idea? Of course it is, but this places rigid constraints on the design of
dwellings (and other buildings) especially where there are more than two
floors above ground level, and even more so in high rise situations.
In the case of dwellings, 'escape' windows are acceptable
where the floor level does not exceed 4.5m. The idea is that people can
climb out of the window, lower themselves to full arms length and drop, at
which height it is unlikely to cause severe injury (providing you avoid
the spiked railings!).
This is all very well for the able bodied (providing the
window isn't locked), but what about the elderly, very young or infirm etc
Once above 4.5m, escape routes must be protected by fire
resisting construction, which used to mean fire doors needed self closing
devices to ensure the door remained effective, however in April 2007 the
government removed the requirement for self closers on fire doors in
dwellings. This was largely due to the fact that in a large proportion of
instances, occupiers removed them as soon as the ink on the completion
certificate was dry!
In fact, fire resisting construction often fails due to
poor construction or wear and tear, alterations or the installation of
services through compartment walls that are not fire stopped afterwards.
There has to be a better way, and there is:
Sprinklers, but until building regulations
change to enforce the installation of sprinklers (especially in high risk
dwellings such as HMO's) the death toll will largely continue. They are
compulsory in buildings over 30m high, WHY? Because they are effective!
Congratulations to the Welsh Assemble, who have realised the benefits of
domestic sprinklers and legislated that all new dwellings must be
fitted with them.
Until then we are restricted in the design of our homes
(and other buildings), but there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Marsden Fire Safety can often provide fire engineered
solutions or fire strategies to overcome such design restrictions, and has been
successful in obtaining building regulations approval for many
Most solutions involve the use of domestic or residential
sprinklers, along with increased smoke detection and smoke control measures.
Fire engineered solutions are tailored to each individual
scheme, and incorporate control measures for ensuring, as far as possible,
ongoing maintenance of components to ensure the strategy
remains effective for the life of the building.
We work closely with an approved sprinkler
installer, who designs and installs sprinkler systems to achieve
a finished product which is usually welcomed and approved by local
authority building control officers and private sector approved
inspectors. They have designed some very innovative systems such as grey
water schemes and their patented 'Greenflow' system that is virtually self
Fire service access requirements often
cause rejection of town and country planning applications to build or
convert dwellings in remote areas. These problems too can often be
overcome by fire strategies incorporating the installation of sprinklers.
If you have a building regulations or planning problem, Marsden
Fire Safety can usually help.
Contact us now for help on
planning and building regulations