The Fire Safety Building Regulations
The 2010 Building Regulations use the 1984 Building Act (Section 1) to require buildings to be designed to secure reasonable standards of health and safety for persons in or about buildings (and any others who may be affected by buildings, or matters connected with buildings) in the event of a fire.
The legislation means that the only consideration for fire safety building design is life safety – i.e. that all occupants must be able to evacuate safely if a fire starts.
Complex buildings (skyscrapers, stadia, large venues etc) do not use the ADB Guidance. They use other standards to meet the Fire Safety Building Regulations but again, the only consideration is life safety.]
The Approved Document B Guidance provides practical guidance to meet the Fire Safety Building Regulations for common building situations. Included in this guidance are provisions on the installation of sprinklers in buildings.
The Building Regulations apply in England and Wales and to new buildings and alterations to existing buildings. Separate, but similar, fire safety legislation is in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The focus on life safety considerations only means that the fire safety design regulation system is in effect: design to ensure evacuation before collapse. It also means that if all occupants evacuate a building safely in the event of a fire, the outcome under the current system is a “success” even if the building is destroyed by the fire.
This approach is wrong-headed. The solution is to also make property protection a consideration of the fire safety building regulations so that buildings are designed to survive fire events.