Approved Document B in focus

Published:  20 July, 2018

The UK government plans a full-scale review into building regulations for the autumn and launches a new consultation. 

On 19 July the government launched a consultation on its proposed clarifications regarding building regulations fire safety guidance.

The proposed clarification of statutory guidance on fire safety (Approved Document B) aims to improve usability and reduce the risk of misinterpretation by those carrying out and inspecting building work.

Approved Document B is a part of the building regulations guidance in England covering fire safety matters within and around buildings.

The clarifications were issued following recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt, who led an independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Among the proposed changes include clearly differentiating between external fire spread on the external walls of building and fire spread from one building to another; using European classifications for fire resistance and reaction to fire within the main body of the document as well as aligning the Approved Document with international norms; and consolidating guidance on fire dampers and ventilation systems. The consultation will close on 11 October 2018.

The Secretary of State for Communities has also announced that a full-scale review of the guidelines known as ‘Approved Document B’, will begin in the autumn.

The technical review will assess, amongst other things, whether the underlying policy should be updated to reflect modern building practice, the latest understanding of fire risks and technical and scientific innovations.

Alongside the consultation and review of Approved Document B, the government has also announced a package of additional measures to strengthen safety.

These include establishing a panel, made up of residents, to ensure proposed safety improvements are grounded in the experience of those who live in high-rise buildings; working with a small group of organisations from industry to pilot safety improvements in line with Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations; and introducing a mandatory requirement on landlords in the private rented sector to ensure electrical installations in their property are inspected every five years

Secretary of State for Communities James Brokenshire MP said: “Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary. That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn.”

The latest announcement follows a raft of measures introduced by the UK government as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Over the last few weeks the government has launched a consultation on banning the use of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings which are 18m and above. It has also consulted on banning or restricting the use of ‘desktop studies’ from being used to assess the fire performance of cladding systems, unless another separate consultation demonstrates that they can be safely used. It has also made available £400 million (US$520 million) to fund the removal and replacement of aluminium composite material cladding in the social sector.

To access the consultation documents click here. 

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