C.S. Todd & Associates have been appointed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to draft guidance to assist the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) in their new role, as part of the multi-disciplinary team that will assist the Building Safety Regulator (“BSR”) in assurance checks of new build Higher Risk Buildings, prior to occupation. The Guide is intended purely for internal use by the FRS.
It will be illegal to occupy a new HRB unless a completion certificate has been issued by the BSR. For the purpose of issuing a completion certificate, the BSR will generally require that the completed building is inspected by the multi-disciplinary team.
The FRS will need to obtain assurance, by means of reasonable sampling and enquiry, that, as far as can reasonably be ascertained, there is compliance with the fire strategy for the building and the Building Regulations.
The scope of the Guide will include higher risk blocks of flats and student residences of at least 18 metres in height or at least seven storeys.
The Guide will address eleven key fire safety measures that are considered by NFCC to be critical to the safety of residents and firefighters. These measures comprise:
- Fire detection and alarm systems
- Automatic door release mechanisms
- Smoke control systems, including smoke curtains
- Automatic fire suppression systems
- Dry rising mains and wet rising mains
- Evacuation lifts
- Firefighters lifts
- Evacuation alert systems
- Secure information boxes
- Wayfinding signage
- Emergency voice communication systems
In the Guide, each system or equipment is explained; common, known weaknesses and non-compliances, in respect of which the FRS should be alert, are identified to assist the FRS with the sampling process. These weaknesses are exemplified by practical pitfalls, in which common or hypothetical errors that could be identified within the assurance checks are discussed.
Recommendations will be provided for practical enquiries and tests in relation to each system or equipment to the extent necessary to provide assurance to the public that the building is safe in the event of fire.
Managing Director Colin Todd MBE said “We are delighted to have been entrusted with drafting this Guidance for the NFCC. This important work is consistent with the long experience and commitment of C.S. Todd & Associates to keeping people safe from fire in domestic premises. Our track record ranges from drafting the first British Standard for fire detection in dwellings in 1995 to drafting the highly acclaimed guides Fire Safety in Purpose-Built Blocks of Flats for the Local Government Association and Fire Safety in Specialised Housing for the NFCC. Most recently, we have undertaken a revision of both of these guides under contract to the Home Office, and they will be published shortly. The assurance checks in HRBs that will be carried out by the FRS will not only make a major contribution to the safety of residents, but will provide reassurance to the public regarding their safety, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to this.”