Building Regulations for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The fire safety aspects of building design and construction in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are controlled by the requirements of the Building Regulations, Parts B and Part E respectively.
The regulations are set out in functional form and set performance objectives rather than prescribing specific fire safety measures.These functional requirements can be met by;
a) following the recommendations set out in the regulations
b) adopting an alternative approach (e.g. using fire engineering).
Whilst there is no overriding requirement to adopt the recommendations given in the regulations, this represents the most common approach, particularly for relatively small and straightforward buildings. However, fire engineering techniques are increasingly being applied in large or complex developments.
Building Regulations for Northern Ireland
The design and construction for fire safety in buildings in Northern Ireland is controlled by the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011. There are some minor differences between the document which applies in England and Wales..
The functional requirements of the Building Regulations require that ‘reasonable’, ‘adequate’ and ‘appropriate’ steps be taken to ensure health and safety of people in and around buildings. These requirements are summarised below.
Requirement B1 requires that adequate escape routes be provided to enable the occupants to reach a safe location outside of the building. Suitable means of giving warning of a fire are also required.
Fire Spread Across Surfaces Requirement B2 requires that materials used as wall and ceiling linings do not promote rapid fire spread or unduly contribute to the heat produced by a fire.
Requirement B3 requires that appropriate measures be taken to ensure that:
•the structural stability of the building will be maintained;
•a wall between two buildings will resist fire spread between the buildings;
•buildings are subdivided into compartments to restrict the size of a fire;
•unseen voids are subdivided to inhibit hidden fire spread.
These objectives are generally achieved by providing fire resisting constructions.
External Fire Spread
Requirement B4 is primarily intended to prevent the spread of fire from one building to another as a result of heat radiation or airborne burning brands. This is generally achieved by:
a) controlling external surfaces of walls and roofs;
b) providing fire resisting external walls when appropriate.
Facilities for the Fire Services
Requirement B5 requires that reasonable facilities are available to enable fire appliances to gain access to the building and to enable fire fighters to protect life.
However, a fire that causes no physical injuries can still have potentially devastating effects on the viability of a business in terms of:
loss of stock
loss of records
direct damage to building
damage to public image
Therefore, where a fire has the potential to cause large financial losses, consideration should be given to additional fire protection measures.
In some cases insurance cover may not be readily available unless fire protection measures exceed the minimum requirements of building regulations
Myths & Misinformation
The property insurance market has been characterised by general confusion resulting from conflicting information, misinformation, misreporting and myths.
There is no justification whatsoever for premium increases on buildings clad with polyurethane or polyisocyanurate panels.
Our Technical Department is available to support building owners and tenants to assess fire risk issues and help in discussions with brokers and insurers.