Building Regulations and Fire Safety
1.1. Building regulations exist principally to ensure the health and safety of
people in and around buildings. This guidance is provided to assist businesses
and members of the public who intend to carry out building projects that require
compliance with the current building regulations and the Regulatory Reform (Fire
Safety) Order 2005.
The following paragraphs set out the standards and values that will be applied
in this matter.
2. The Building Regulations 2000.
2.1. The Building Regulations apply to building work as defined in regulation 3
of the Building Regulations 2000 (as amended).
2.2. Fire safety requirements are given in Part B of Schedule 1 to the
Regulations. These cover means of escape, fire alarms, fire spread, and access
and facilities for the fire and rescue service. Guidance on some ways of meeting
the requirements is given in Approved Document B (Fire safety).
The documents can be found by selecting the following link: -
3. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
3.1. The Regulatory Reform
(Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RR (FS) O) reformed the law relating to fire safety in
non-domestic premises. It places a specific duty to take such fire precautions
as may be reasonably required to ensure that premises are safe for the occupants
and those in the immediate vicinity and a general duty to carry out a risk
3.2. The RR (FS) O applies to all non-domestic premises, which
includes the common parts of apartment buildings and both the common and shared
parts of HMOs. Article 6 of the RR (FS) O does exclude some premises such as
certain mines, vehicles and land forming part of an agricultural or forestry
3.3. Most building work and certain changes of use involving
buildings that are subject to the Building Regulations will also be subject to
the RR (FS) O once the work is complete and the building is occupied.
Division of Responsibility
4.1. Building control bodies are responsible for
checking for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations.
The Regulations are concerned with building work and material changes of use and
the requirements for fire safety will apply to most buildings. These
requirements intend to ensure that the necessary measures for the safe use of
the building are incorporated in the design.
4.3. During the design and
construction phase of a project, the building control body will check on
compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations. In order to
facilitate the consultation process they should take a co-ordinating role with
the Fire Authority and, where appropriate, with other regulatory bodies. Any
recommendations and advice is channelled through the building control body to
4.4 The Fire Authority is responsible for the enforcement of the
RR (FS) O that concerns the safety of people in relation to the operation and
use of certain buildings once occupied.
4.5. Once a building is occupied and in
use, the Fire Authority takes on the co-ordinating role as the enforcing
authority for the RR (FS) O. Licensing and registration authorities must ensure
that the Fire Authority is consulted about fire safety matters concerning
premises that need to be licensed or registered.
4.6. Building work that
complies with the Building Regulations requirements for fire safety will
normally be satisfactory when the building is occupied. However, where
alterations to an existing building are involved, compliance with Building
Regulations will not always result in the fire precautions in all parts of that
building being upgraded.
5. Building Regulations – Compliance
5.1. It is the
responsibility of anyone carrying out building work to comply with the relevant
requirements of the Building Regulations.
5.2. The Approved Documents associated
with the Regulations provide guidance for some of the more common building
situations. However, there may well be alternative ways of achieving compliance
with the requirements.
5.3. The design and construction of building work is
subject to checks by a building control body. Applicants can decide whether to
apply to the local authority for building control services or to appoint an
6. Local Authority Building Control
6.1. Where the applicant
chooses to use the local authority there will generally be a choice of two
routes: the full plans procedure, or the building notice option.
6.2. A full
plans application involves seeking formal approval of plans. Approval or
rejection must be given within a five week time limit (or two months if the
applicant agrees), and there is a facility to request a determination of
disagreements from the Secretary of State. When a full plans application is made
the applicant can ask the local authority for a completion certificate when the
work is complete.
6.3. A building notice, however, is simply given to the local
authority at least two clear working days before work begins.
6.4. Where the
building is to be put to a use where the RR (FS) O applies or will apply after
completion of the work then the building notice procedure cannot be used.
7.1. If an approved inspector is engaged, the person
intending to carry out the work and the inspector must jointly give to the local
authority an initial notice. The local authority has five days in which to
accept or reject the notice. If the local authority have neither accepted nor
rejected the notice by the end of that period, the notice is deemed to be
7.2. Once the notice has been accepted the approved inspector is
responsible for supervising the work. If the applicant wishes to have detailed
plans of the work certified as complying with the Building Regulations, and the
approved inspector is satisfied with the plans, a plans certificate will be
issued to the applicant and the local authority by the approved inspector.
There is a facility to request a determination of disagreements from the
Secretary of State. When the work is complete, the approved inspector must give
the local authority a final certificate.
8. Fire Risk Assessment and the RR (FS)
8.1. By virtue of the RR (FS) O, the Responsible Person is required to carry
out a fire risk assessment of their premises.
8.2. This must be a suitable and
sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the
purpose of identifying the general fire precautions required to comply with the
requirements of the RR (FS) O.
8.3. If there are; • five or more employees • the
premises is subject to a licence • the premises is subject to an Alterations
Notice The significant findings of the fire risk assessment, the control
measures put in place to address the significant findings and any group of
persons identified by the assessment as being especially at risk must all be
recorded. This information should be presented on request to the Fire Authority.
8.4. Although these requirements are applicable to a building whilst in
operation, it would be useful for the designers of buildings to carry out a
preliminary fire risk assessment as part of the design process.
8.5. The level
of detail of this assessment will vary depending on the amount of information
available to the designer and whether or not the eventual occupier of the
building is known at the design stage.
8.6. If a preliminary risk assessment is
produced it can be used as part of the Building Regulations submission and can
assist the Fire Authority in providing advice at an early stage as to what, if
any, additional provisions may be necessary when the building is first occupied.
It will also assist the Responsible Person when developing the full fire risk
assessment for the purposes of the RR (FS) O and it will act as a record of the
rationale behind the fire safety design of the finished building.
safety information relating to the design and construction of the building
should be given to the responsible person at the completion of the project. For
most buildings basic information on the location of fire protection measures in
the form of an as-built plan may be all that is necessary. For complex buildings
a more detailed record of the fire safety strategy and procedures for operating
and maintaining any fire protection measures of the building will be necessary.
Further guidance is available in BS9999: Part 12:2004 Fire precautions in the
design, construction and use of buildings:
Managing fire safety
9.1. The responsibility for ensuring that a building once occupied is
provided with appropriate fire safety arrangements rests with the Responsible
Person. It is essential therefore, that, when occupying new buildings or
existing buildings that have had building works completed, or when contemplating
alterations or extensions to existing buildings, the Responsible Person ensures
that a fire risk assessment has been carried out. The Responsible Person should
ensure that the fire safety arrangements in place are adequate and comply fully
with the requirements of the RR (FS) O
9.2. When considering the fire safety
measures for the building in use the Fire Authority should have regard to any
risk assessments that may have been undertaken as part of the design and
approvals processes and subsequently by the Responsible Person in the discharge
of their duties under the RR (FS) O.
9.3. Consultation between the
designer/applicant, the building control body and, and the recording of risk
assessments and other relevant information, throughout the design and approvals
process, should ensure that any subsequent need for a variation in the fire
safety measures provided is avoided, or kept to a minimum.
9.4. Additional fire
safety measures should only become necessary because of risks that were not
identified or known about prior to occupation of the building, or at the time of
the building regulation approval and consultation process.
9.5. It is essential
therefore, that the Fire Authority is fully consulted on all relevant matters
during the design and construction process and that their advice on the fire
safety measures for the building is incorporated, if appropriate, into the final
9.6. If the views of the Fire Authority and the building
control body differ and cannot be resolved, then the building control body must
ensure that the applicant is made fully aware of the concerns of the Fire
Authority and the possibility that the Fire Authority may take enforcement
action under the RR (FS) O upon the occupation of the building.
10.1. When a building is likely to be used for a purpose that is subject
to the fire safety requirements of other legislation, consultation between the
relevant bodies is an essential part of the building control procedure. Whilst
there are clear distinctions of jurisdiction between building work and an
occupied building, it is often impossible when considering the overall level of
safety in a building to separate physical fire safety measures and the way in
which the building will be managed when occupied.
10.2. Where a building control
body is formally engaged in checking the compliance of building work with the
Building Regulations and the building is to be put to a use to which the RR (FS)
O applies or will apply after completion of the work, there are statutory
requirements to consult the Fire Authority at certain stages of the process.
10.3. These consultations are necessary so that the Fire Authority is aware of
the erection or alteration of buildings in which they may have a direct or
indirect interest or responsibility. They also provide an opportunity to make
the applicant aware of action that may have to be taken on non-building
regulation matters in order to satisfy any other fire safety legislation once
the building is occupied.
10.4. There may be occasions where more than one
building control body is dealing with different building work within the same
building. In these circumstances, it would be advisable for them to consult with
each other, as necessary, to avoid any conflict that might otherwise arise.
10.5. Consultation with all parties can also help to achieve consensus where
alternative technical solutions may be available, such as during the
specification of fire detection and fire alarm systems. As an example, a fire
risk assessment, agreed by the relevant parties, may assist in determining the
fitness for purpose of alternative means of providing a fire alarm, e.g., a
shouted warning or a simple electrical alarm or a fault monitored electrical
alarm. Decisions made at the specification stage can save considerable
rectification costs if corrective action proves necessary after completion of
the building work.
10.6. The Fire Authority must also consult with the local
authority and, where an initial notice is in force, the relevant Approved
Inspector, before issuing an Enforcement Notice under the RR (FS)O that would
oblige a person to make an alteration to the premises. See Fire Safety Staff
Guidance Note – Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Enforcement Notice
Procedure for Failure to Comply with Provisions of the Order.
Design Stage- Advice and Consultation
11.1. At the design stage, of a project
the designer may wish to seek advice about the fire safety aspects of the
scheme. Involving building control bodies and fire authorities at an early stage
can often result in reduced costs for the applicant. However, the advice given
by the building control body and the Fire Authority does not extend to providing
11.2. The designer’s first approach should preferably be to
the building control body. In dealing with an independent approach from a
designer or occupier, for goodwill advice under the Fire and Rescue Services Act
2004 the Fire Authority will respond that with respect to the Building
Regulations, or other legislation for which the Fire authority is not
responsible, it can offer only observations.
11.3 The applicant will be referred
to a building control body, and where appropriate other enforcing authorities,
for guidance on what may be required to meet the legislation for which those
bodies or authorities are responsible.
11.4. At preliminary design stage, any
advice the Fire Authority may give will be in writing and will clearly indicate
which matters: o May need to be addressed to ensure compliance with the RR (FS)
O when the building is occupied o Advisory and not enforceable under legislation
A copy of the advice should be sent to the local authority and the approved
inspector where it is known that a relevant initial notice is in force.
there are aspects of the design, which follow an unusual or complex approach to
fire safety, it may be desirable to request a joint meeting with designer, the
Fire Authority and the building control body.
11.6. At this meeting, the
building control body should take the coordinating role. A record of the main
points of the meeting should be circulated to all parties, which clearly
distinguish between: • Building regulations requirements. • Requirements of RR
(FS) O. • Advice that is not enforceable under legislation.
12.1. Where a building is to be put to a use where the RR (FS) O
applies or will apply after completion of the work, building control bodies are
required to consult with the Fire Authority at certain stages within the process
as prescribed by legislation.
12.2. The purpose of consultation is to seek the
comments of the Fire Authority regarding the fire precautions necessary to meet
the legislation that will apply to the building once it is in use. This should
allow the reaching of mutually compatible views on whether plans and building
work are satisfactory from the standpoints of the Building Regulations and the
RR (FS) O.
12.3. The Fire Authority may wish to offer observations to the
building control body in relation to the Building Regulations. These should be
clearly and separately identified.
12.4. Consultation also provides the
opportunity for the Fire Authority and the building control body to make
recommendations regarding the provision of fire precautions that it believes
would be advisable but that are not required by legislation.
12.5. To facilitate
consultation the building control body will supply two copies of those drawings
that demonstrate compliance with Part B. The two copies allow the Fire Authority
to retain a set of drawings while returning the other to the building control
body, marked up with any comments.
12.6. Where plans are deposited with a local
authority for approval and the building is to be put to a use where the RR (FS)
O applies or will apply after completion of the work, the local authority is
required to consult with the Fire Authority before passing or conditionally
passing the plans. The Building Act only allows local authorities five weeks, or two
months if agreed in writing, to pass or reject plans. The Fire Authority must
therefore, respond in good time.
12.7. Where approved inspectors have been
appointed and the building is to be put to a use where the RR (FS) O applies or
will apply after completion of the work, they are required to consult with the
Fire Authority. This should take place before or as soon as is practicable after
issuing an initial notice and before giving a plans certificate or final
certificate to the local authority. Approved inspectors may not give a plans
certificate or final certificate until 15 working days have elapsed from the
date on which they consulted with the Fire Authority, unless the Fire Authority
have replied before the end of the 15 days.
12.8. Once the building control body
is reasonably satisfied that the proposals comply with the Building Regulations
they will send to the Fire Authority two copies of drawings which relate to
compliance with Part B, i.e. which identify the intended physical fire
precautions, together with any supporting documentation they consider useful.
That might include correspondence they have had with the applicant. It may also
be helpful at this point for the building control body to advise the Fire
Authority of any unusual aspect of the design.
12.9. The Fire Authority will
make its comments to the building control body in writing and within agreed
timescales (usually within 15 working days) so that the building control body
can meet its own obligations. The fire authority’s comments must clearly
distinguish between matters: o This may have to be complied with under the Fire
Safety Order when the building is occupied o This may have to be complied with
to meet other fire safety legislation other than Building Regulations o Which
are only advisory and not enforceable under legislation.
12.10. If, in the effort
to achieve an acceptable fire safety package, the views of the Fire Authority
and the building control body are incompatible (as a result of the differing
scope of their respective powers), the building control body and the Fire
Authority should seek to resolve the matter quickly and simply with the
applicant. Failing this then the Fire Authority will set down its concerns and
recommendations in a formal written case, which may include details of any
enforcement action it may take upon occupation of the building, to the building
control body who should retain a copy and ensure that a copy is provided to the
12.11. The building control body must have regard to the Fire
Authority’s comments before reaching its decision on plans or in the case of an
approved inspector before deciding on a final or plans certificate. In giving
their decision, building control bodies should include a copy of any comments
from the Fire Authority so that the applicant is fully aware of the possibility
that the Fire Authority may require additional works on occupation of the
13. Approval of Plans
13.1. Where a full plans application has been
submitted to a local authority they must issue a decision notice within the
statutory time limit. They may reject the plans, approve them or issue a
13.2. In cases where an approved inspector is undertaking
building control, if an applicant requests a plans certificate, the approved
inspector must give one if the approved inspector is satisfied that the plans
comply with the Building Regulations
13.3. When statutory consultation is
involved, the building control body should also send a copy of the notice or
certificate (or some other mutually acceptable written notification) to the Fire
14. Alterations Notices
14.1. Where, an Alterations Notice has been
served under the RR (FS) O in respect of any premises then the Responsible
Person must notify the Fire Authority before making o any changes to the
premises o any changes to any services, fittings or equipment in the premises o
Changes to the quantity of dangerous substances present in the premises, which
may result in a significant increase in risk
14.2 When notifying the Fire
Authority the Responsible Person may be required to provide details of the
changes proposed and a copy of the relevant fire risk assessment if this is
stated within the Alterations notice. See Fire Safety Staff Guidance Note –
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Alterations Notice Procedure.
15.1. As work proceeds, the building control body will
normally make inspections as appropriate. The purpose of these inspections is to
assess the works as they progress with regard to compliance with the Building
Regulations, which relate to fire safety and other requirements of the Building
Regulations for the finished building only.
15.2. Building Regulations do not
address the risk of fire during the construction work, which is covered by the
Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.
construction work is being carried out on an existing building which, apart from
the construction site part of the building, remains occupied, the Fire Authority
are responsible for the enforcement of the Construction (Health, Safety and
Welfare) Regulations in respect of fire.
15.4. Where the building is unoccupied,
the RR (FS) O will apply and the Health and Safety Executive are responsible for
16.1. The applicant should notify the building
control body that the building work is complete.
16.2. If the building control
body is satisfied that the work complies with the requirements of the Building
Regulations, they should issue either, in the case of a local authority, a
completion certificate or, in the case of an approved inspector, after
consultation with the Fire Authority, a final certificate.
16.3. The building
control body should send a copy of the completion/ final certificate to the Fire
Authority including, where available, a copy of the risk assessment and/or “as
built” record drawings.
17.1. Where the RR (FS) O applies, the
Responsible Person must have completed the fire risk assessment and the
provisions required to address the identified risks must be in place. There is
no period of grace for the Responsible Person to produce the risk assessment.
The documentation and any necessary safety measures must be in place on the
first day that the building is occupied.
17.2 To assist in the fire risk
assessment process, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has
issued a series of Premises Guides that will enable the Responsible Person to more
easily carry out their duties in preparing the fire risk assessment. An initial guide
entitled 'A short guide to making your premises safe from fire' has been issued,
and is aimed at providing simple and practical advice to people responsible for fire
safety in small and medium sized businesses. A copy of this booklet can be obtained by
selecting the following link:
Short Guide to Making your Premises Safe
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