Fire safety resource relating to external walls of taller buildings is launched

LABC Warranty has today published a new fire safety resource to guide architects, engineers, designers and developers when constructing buildings in England affected by the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018.

The resource brings together up-to-date references, exemptions and guidance from the Regulations, associated Approved Documents, circulars and FAQs from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and LABC Warranty’s position for warranty cover approval.

The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 banned the use of combustible materials in external walls and specified attachments in buildings at least 18 metres high, noting that ongoing consultations may reduce this threshold to 11 metres (approximately four stories).

The online database, researched and compiled by our technical staff with support from external organisations, lists nearly 100 elements, materials, arrangements and systems that make up the external walls and specified attachments of many typical buildings.

Learn more about the fire safety resource

How the external wall fire safety resource can assist designers and developers

The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and associated amendment to Approved Document B came into force on 21 December 2018.

The amendment defined an “external wall” and restricted the use of combustible materials within such walls where they form part of a “relevant building” in England. The amendment also detailed exempt materials and outlined implications for maintenance, upgrades or repair works to existing buildings.

The restrictions supplement and update existing requirements, affecting how relevant buildings are designed and the combustibility of the materials used. Any organisation involved in the design, specification and procurement of materials needs to recognise and adhere to these mandatory requirements.

The External Wall Fire Safety Resource lists almost 100 components, systems, materials and arrangements from a typical building’s external wall construction, and for each item describes the following:

  • Regulatory position, noting (where applicable) the December 2018 Amendments, Approved Documents and MHCLG’s own FAQs and advice notes
  • Exemptions, highlighting whether the item is exempt from the December 2018 Amendments
  • Approved Document B4 (External fire spread), noting whether B4 still applies and referencing relevant parts if B4 remains applicable
  • Warranty position, indicating our position and noting if we regard this position as best practice or one that has the potential to be subjective (i.e. other organisations may have a different opinion). The warranty positions shown are those of LABC Warranty and cannot be attributed to other organisations.

The resource will be updated to reflect any future relevant changes to fire safety regulations and guidance. Users can receive notifications of updates by subscribing to the resource.

What buildings does the resource cover?

While the December 2018 Amendment describes a “relevant building” as being a building* with a storey height at least 18 metres above ground, existing un-amended regulations require that external walls to must “resist the spread of fire over the walls and from one building to another, having regard to the height, use and position of the building.” making fire safety important to all buildings of all heights

*Where that building contains one or more dwellings, contains an institution, or contains a room for residential purposes (excluding any room in a hostel, hotel or boarding house).

With suggestions that the specified height threshold may be lowered to 11 metres, it follows that the Regulations and the Fire Safety Resource which are applicable to “Relevant” buildings could be used as a conservative approach and reference guide when designing buildings of any height in England

Who should refer to the External Wall Fire Safety Resource?

The External Wall Fire Safety Resource should provide a useful source of information to the following:

  • Architects: Technicians up to ‘Lead’ architects
  • Façade engineers / consultants: Technicians up to Partners
  • Building Control: All levels
  • Specialist contractors: All levels
  • Manufacturers
  • Developers: Façade package managers
  • Main Contractors: Façade Package Managers and Design Managers / Directors

Learn more about the fire safety resource

Please note: The information in the external wall fire safety resource is believed to be correct in light of information currently available and at the time of publication but is not guaranteed. Neither LABC Warranty nor its agents can accept responsibility in respect of the contents or any events arising from the use of the information contained within this site. The guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. For the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty Technical Manual.

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