The Smoke Control Association (SCA) has submitted proposals to improve smoke control guidelines within Approved Document B of the Building Regulations.

16 April 2018

The SCA fully supports the current independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety and welcomed the publication of the interim report in December 2017.

Representing companies and consultants across the smoke control sector, the association has a history of publishing well-respected guides and is ideally positioned to offer expertise and guidance to the independent review team.

The proposed changes put forward by the SCA include:

•    More prescription of performance requirements for smoke control installations. The guidance should offer minimum objective-based requirements on a sliding scale, depending on the type of building and the risk presented.
•    Recommendations that are focused on ensuring systems and installations are designed and installed in a competent manner, with competency schemes more actively encouraged.
•    The guidance should have clearly prescribed references to product standards such as the EN12101 suite, so that equipment installed is tested and certified as fit for the purpose intended. Architects, building owners and contractors should not be permitted to trade off fire and smoke performance for aesthetics or commercial gain.
•    Where a fire engineer or similar professional has been employed to design a strategy or blueprint for a building, they should be retained and engaged for the duration of the project, ensuring that the installation and the interactions between the various systems is fully realised.
•    The guidance should clearly reference the most applicable standards that are appropriate to the design of the system, whether British Standards or Industry best practice documents. Levels of competence should be clearly defined to ensure that designers, installers, commissioning engineers and maintenance contractors have suitable knowledge and training to deliver fully functioning life safety smoke control systems.

Actively involved with industry standards committees, previous SCA recommendations have been included in BS 9991 and BS 9999 and SCA chairman David Mowatt is hopeful that key aspects of Approved Document B will be addressed and improved during its redrafting. He comments: “This review represents a unique opportunity to tackle critical flaws in Approved Document B and make vital changes that will be felt throughout the industry, offering clearer guidance and improving safety across the board.”