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Flats: Construction

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will ensure that blocks of flats of a height of 30 metres or more completed or refurbished after April 2007 are fitted with sprinkler systems. (286346)

The Building Regulations 2000 require that

“where reasonably necessary to inhibit the spread of fire within the building”

automatic fire suppression systems and/or fire resisting construction should be provided in new buildings.

In April 2007, the guidance given in Approved Document B (Fire safety), which shows one way in which this requirement can be met, was amended to provide that both a sprinkler system and fire resisting construction should be provided in new blocks of flats over 30 m in height.

The building regulations apply to building work. Therefore, where a building is being refurbished and building work is being undertaken, that work will need to comply with the relevant requirements of the regulations and the rest of the building should be made no worse as a result of the work being carried out.

Furthermore, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires those with responsibility for the building (usually the employer, owner or occupier) to carry out a fire risk assessment based on the particular circumstances and use of the premises. Under the order, the responsible person must put in place whatever fire protection measures are adequate and appropriate to mitigate the risk to life in the event of a fire. The order is not prescriptive about what specific fire safety measures are required. This is a matter for the responsible person based on the outcome of their risk assessment.