Building standards (fire safety) - a consultation on external wall systems
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02 August 2021
The consultation covers five main areas:
- The wording of mandatory standard 2.7 relating to fire spread on external walls.
- Consideration of a definition and ban on the highest risk metal composite material (MCM) cladding panels.
- Options to improving standards and guidance on cladding systems, including the continued role of the large-scale fire test.
- Consequential matters - combustible exemptions
- Impact assessments.
The proposed changes outlined in the consultation aim to improve fire safety for the design and construction of all buildings, in relation to external wall cladding systems, making them safer for those in and around buildings in the event of an outbreak of fire.
The reason for this consultation:
Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, a ministerial working group (MWG) was set up to oversee a review of building and fire regulatory frameworks. They also oversee any other relevant matter and make any recommendations for improvements to help ensure that people are safe in Scotland's buildings.
In 2018, the building standards (fire safety) review panel (a sub group of the MWG), recommended to ministers that the building regulations relating to external fire spread (standard 2.7) did not require amending, but it did recommend that the supporting guidance in the technical handbooks could be strengthened. The key changes in relation to cladding introduced on 1 October 2019 were as follows:
- Lowering the height at which combustible cladding can be used from 18 metres to 11 metres to align with fire-fighting from the ground.
- Tighter controls over the combustibility of cladding systems on hospitals, residential care buildings, entertainment and assembly buildings regardless of building height.
More recently, Kevin Stewart, minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning announced at the local government and communities committee meeting on 4 September 2020 that a panel of fire experts would be convened to consider a ban on the highest risk cladding materials through building regulations and to review the role of the large-scale fire test, BS 8414.
This consultation reflects the outcomes and proposals of the expert panel.
The Scottish Government is now seeking the views of any organisation or individual with an interest in ensuring building standards legislation and associated technical handbook guidance to fully address the issues raised in relation to the design and construction of buildings, and the safety of persons in, and around buildings in the event of fire spread onto external wall cladding systems.
To read the consultation paper click here.
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