Beds Sector Under Scrutiny As Government Introduces Tougher Fire Safety Standards for New Medium-Rise Blocks

Published: 06/06/2022

The ban on the use of combustible materials in and on external walls of certain buildings over 18 metres in height has been extended to include new hotels, hostels and boarding houses, extending the 2018 ban that covered blocks of flats, and hospitals, student accommodation and dormitories in boarding schools.  This is in part a result of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and part due to the government’s own research.  

Furthermore, these changes also ban the use of metal composite material panels with an unmodified polyethylene core, known as MCM PE, on all new buildings of any height.  

hotel facade

New statutory guidance will also be introduced to restrict the combustibility of materials used in and on the external walls of residential buildings, between 11 and 18 metres in height.  Many in the industry have been calling for changes along these lines for a number of years.  The net effect of these changes will lead to lower risk mid-rise developments meeting the necessary safety standards whilst allowing designers the flexibility of using environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials.  And let’s not forget the provisions, that the government has already introduced, for sprinkler systems to be installed in new blocks of flats 11m and over (in England).

Other updates to the Building Regulations being put forward include elements of solar shading devices to fall within the scope of the ban, cavity trays to be (temporarily) exempt from the ban and the list of materials exempt from the ban to include fibre optic cables and insulation materials 300mm from ground level.  

Approved Document B has been subject to multiple amendments – see here
The amendments also include measures to strengthen the information available to fire and rescue services in tall buildings.  New residential developments over 18 metres will require to have in place an evacuation alert system (EAS).  The EAS will enable fire and rescue services to inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy, during a fire emergency.

Additionally, all new residential buildings over 11 metres now have to include a secure information box giving fire and rescue services access to details about a building in the event of a fire.  

Harris Associates has its own in-house façade team, comprising of technicians, engineers, and project managers.  Having overseen sixty-plus remediation schemes, we advise on compliance matters, carry out investigations, compliance reviews, EWS1 work and coordinate and deliver PAS 9980 assessments.

For more information, assistance and advice on these latest developments and on any related fire safety or regulatory matter please contact Shaun Harris or call 0203 195 0857


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