In October 2013, the National Assembly for Wales passed new regulations that require a fire sprinkler system to be installed in new and converted houses and flats.

The Welsh Government has amended Approved Documents B Volumes 1 and 2 with new regulations and guidance around fire safety

What are the changes and when do they come into effect?

Changes were announced to require Automatic Fire Suppression Systems to be installed in residential buildings (regulation 37A) throughout Wales from 1st January 2016.

The requirement will apply to new and converted houses and flats, including converted:

  • Care homes
  • Rooms for residential purposes (other than in a hotel, hospital, prison or short stay leisure hostel)
  • Registered group homes and sheltered housing

To avoid the requirements, applications must be deposited before the new regulation comes into effect and commenced before 1st January 2017. Exemptions exist for temporary and historic buildings.

Technical Requirements

The new Approved Documents contain guidance as follows:

  • Both documents contain a new Section 2 in B1 ‘Residential Automatic Fire Suppression Systems’.
  • Section 2 requires suppression systems to be designed and installed to BS 9251 and 9252 or other ‘equivalent standard’, neither specifically including or precluding other suppression systems such as water mist: innovative systems must be ‘designed and tested for use in domestic buildings and be fit for their intended purpose’.
  • The system should cover the whole building, except fire separated garages etc.
  • Where a building with a suppression system is materially altered or extended the system should be revised as necessary to ensure cover of all areas (not applicable to those without suppression).
  • Guidance is given on means of water supply to the system.
  • Guidance on fire service access is amended to increase the maximum distance for pump appliances from the building from 45m to 60m.
  • Attention is needed on Regulation 38 for buildings covered under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Reference is also made in both documents to BS 9991 – this code of practice for fire safety includes many alternative solutions where suppression systems are installed.

By Frzana Ferguson