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Construction Methods: Fire Prevention

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on the fire resistance standards to be applied to materials used in the construction of public and community buildings; (203708)

(2) what steps she is taking to inform local authorities about the fire performance of certain composite panels;

(3) whether she plans to revise, loss prevention standard 1181, relating to the fire performance of composite panels used in the construction of schools and other community buildings;

(4) if she will meet the Loss Prevention Certificate Board to discuss the fire performance of composite panels.

The Building Regulations 2000 (as amended) apply to building work in England and Wales, typically the erection, extension or material alteration of a building, including public and community buildings. For the purposes of securing reasonable standards of health and safety for persons in and around buildings, part B of the regulations sets out requirements for fire safety.

In support of these requirements, the Department issues technical guidance, known as Approved Document B, which sets out appropriate levels of fire performance and fire resistance for materials, products and structures, including composite panels, when tested to relevant British or European standards. The necessary level of performance that should be obtained will depend upon the type of building, the nature of the construction product and where it is located.

Specific guidance on meeting the fire safety requirements of the building regulations in the design and construction of schools is given in Building Bulletin 100, published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Information on hospitals in Health Technical Memorandum 02-05, published by the Department of Health.

In existing buildings, fire safety risk assessment undertaken under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 should take account of the type of construction used in any building. The Department has issued technical fire safety risk assessment guidance which includes reference to composite panels.

LPS 1181 is a loss prevention standard produced by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) and used primarily by the insurance industry. This standard provides a method for assessing the fire performance of cladding systems with respect to potential economic loss in the event of a fire. Current statutory provisions and supporting standards for fire protection in buildings are made only for the purposes of securing the health and safety of people in and around buildings, not to reduce economic loss. As such the Department does not utilise LPS 1181 within its guidance on fire safety.

Officials within the Department do, from time to time, communicate with the LPCB on a wide range of issues. However, as LPS 1181 is not utilised in our guidance, it is not of direct relevance to the Department’s work.