Should a fire alarm be provided throughout a block of flats?

The guidance in B1 Section 1 of the Approved Document (fire alarm and fire detection systems) is not intended to be applied to the common parts of blocks of flats and does not include a provision to interconnect installations in separate flats.

Fire detection devices may need to be provided in some blocks to actuate automatic smoke control systems in the common parts of the building in accordance with paragraph 2.25. Such devices are not expected to be linked to a common alarm system.

With reference to the guidance on loft conversions, when providing new fire resisting doors in an existing dwelling house, is it also necessary to replace the existing internal door frames?

A fire-resisting door should be regarded as a complete installed assembly. Thus the door, the frame and any ironmongery should be considered when assessing its suitability. In most cases, however, it should be possible to retain the existing frame. If in doubt, the test report for the door being installed will include details of the door frame in which it was tested.

Fire doors are often thicker and much heavier than other internal doors. Where existing frames are retained it may be necessary to replace or relocate the door stops and to install additional fixings back to the structure. The joint between the frame and the surrounding structure should be adequately sealed and the operating gap between the door and the frame should be kept to a minimum (usually 3-4mm).

When providing a protected stairway in a dwellinghouse, do I need to fit fire resisting doors on the cupboards and bathrooms?

A protected stairway should be enclosed with fire-resisting construction and fire resisting doors in order to protect people escaping down the stairs from a fire in the accommodation.

It may not always be necessary to provide fire doors on cupboards if they are small and the fire risk is low. An alternative to providing a fire door on a bathroom is to include the bathroom within the stair enclosure, thus removing the need for a fire door.

Now that door closers are no longer necessary within dwellings do I need them in a HMO?

The Housing Act 2004 replaced the previous housing fitness standard with a statutory framework for assessing and tackling hazards in housing – including fire hazards.

Within a house designated as a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ such devices may still need to be provided between the private areas (ie bedrooms) and the common parts (ie circulation spaces, living room, kitchen etc).

Now that BS 9999 has replaced the BS 5588 series of standards which standard should I now use?

When an Approved Document refers to a named standard, the relevant version of the standard is the one listed at the end of the publication. However, if this version of the standard has been revised or updated by the issuing standards body, the new version may be used as a source of guidance provided it continues to address the relevant requirements of the Regulations.

Volume 2 of Approved Document B currently refers to the guidance in several of the BS 5588 series of standards as a means of showing compliance with the requirements of Part B (Fire safety) of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations. Until such time as the Approved Document is amended, these references remain part of the guidance approved under section 6 of the 1984 Building Act. As such, compliance with the guidance referred to would confer a legal presumption of conformity with the relevant requirements of Part B.
Following any other guidance would not confer that legal presumption.

Where designers elect to follow the relevant guidance in BS 9999 they will need to satisfy themselves and the building control body that this guidance adequately addresses the requirements of Part B. It is strongly recommended in such cases that designers discuss their proposals with the building control body before starting work.

Withdrawn BS standards are readily available from:
The BSI Knowledge Centre
British Standards Institution
389 Chiswick High Road
London, W4 4AL
Tel: +44 (0)20 8996 7004

Which volume of Approved Document B should I use when dealing with fire precautions in Self Catering Holiday Homes?

In many cases, premises which are similar to a family home can be designed in accordance with Volume 1 (Dwelling houses). However, such premises are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and it may be necessary to take account of the duties imposed under that Order in the design of the premises.

The Department’s leaflet, Do You Have Paying Guests? provides some useful guidance on the application of the Fire Safety Order to B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering properties. Regardless of the design guidance that is adopted, it will still be necessary for Building Control Bodies to consult with Fire and Rescue Authorities on work relating to buildings where the Fire Safety Order is (or will be) applicable. This should ensure that any potential problems can be identified before building work is started.

Further guidance on the consultation process is given in the Department’s publication, Building Regulations and Fire Safety Procedural Guidance.