Key recommendations made to provide clarity and save lives

Evidence has been submitted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in response to the government’s technical consultation on Approved Document B.

Approved Document B covers the building regulations guidance in England surrounding fire safety within and around buildings.

The key recommendations for minimum prescriptive requirements as suggested by the RIBA are:

  • Sprinklers – a requirement in all new and converted residential buildings and installed in existing residential buildings above 18m whenever refurbishment is carried out.
  • Alternative means of escape – a requirement for at least two staircases, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level
  • Centrally addressable fire alarms – a requirement in all new and converted multiple occupancy residential buildings and in existing residential buildings above 18m whenever alteration work is carried out.

Jane Duncan, chair of the Expert Advisory Group on fire safety says, “We simply cannot allow buildings to continue to be built to regulations and guidance that everyone, including the government, acknowledges are deeply flawed.

A concern has been raised that the guidance in Approved Document B has been developed assuming that measures to resist the spread of fire will be 100% effective and the ‘stay put’ policy can be relied on.

As the Grenfell Tower tragedy illustrates, if a fire spreads rapidly, a reliance on the ‘stay put’ policy can be devastating.

Jane concluded, “All residents should have the right to the added protection. This means the guidance must change to ensure a better warning system and an alternative means of escape.”

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