Fire Safety Rules

Fire Safety Rules

The Department of Finance is proposing changes to Part E (Fire Safety) of the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 focusing on improvements to medium and high-rise residential buildings, student accommodation, and care homes that will only apply to new applications for building work after the amendments come into operation.

Other types of buildings, such as large assembly and recreation buildings with a storey over 7.5m and all relevant premises as defined under the Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006 will also be subject to new legislation.

The plans include the implementation of several recommendations from Phase 1 report ingto the Grenfell tragedy  Most of the measures bring Northern Ireland into line with other the other devolved nations on fire safety issues affecting blocks of flats, access and facilities matters for the fire and rescue service.

Safety information and fire suppression systems

Two new regulations form the basis of the consultation:

1. A requirement to provide fire safety information at the completion of the construction stage and handover of the building prior to occupation. This information should help those carrying out their fire safety responsibilities in the post-construction phase.

2. A requirement to install automatic fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, in certain residential buildings. Sprinklers can provide multiple benefits in terms of personal protection of individuals, limiting fire spread, protection for property and fittings and protecting means of escape.

Fire alarms and smoke ventilation

Further views are sought on extending the coverage of automatic fire detection and alarm in all new dwellings, including the installation of a smoke alarm in all habitable rooms.

Clarification is also proposed on the minimum fire detection and alarm system required when a dwelling is subject to extension and/or alteration work.

In addition, there is new guidance about smoke ventilation in the common escape routes of buildings containing flats and a series of measures to assist the Fire and Rescue Service during any response to a fire.