Fire Safety Record Information – A consideration in the light of the review of the Building Regulations

by John Gouldsmith

Part 8, section 38 of the Building Regulations 2010 for England and Wales sets out the requirements regarding Fire Safety Information. [1] It states that:

“(2) The person carrying out the work shall give fire safety information to the responsible person [2] not later than the date of completion of the work, or the date of occupation of the building or extension, whichever is the earlier.

(3) In this regulation—

(a) “fire safety information” means information relating to the design and construction of the building or extension, and the services, fittings and equipment provided in or in connection with the building or extension which will assist the responsible person to operate and maintain the building or extension with reasonable safety;”

Appendix G to the current edition of Approved Document B Fire Safety Volume 2, (“AD B V2”), gives guidance regarding the kind of information that should be provided. In addition, Section 6 and Annex A of BS 5588-12:2004, Fire precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings – part 12 Managing fire safety, require that there should be a “fire safety manual” provided to a“fire safety manager”. Guidance for the content of the fire safety manual is set out in Annex A.

The draft consultation version of AD B V2 [3] contains a new section, Section 19, which is dedicated to Fire Safety Information. This broadly repeats the guidance of the current ADB V2, except that reference to Annex A, Fire safety manual, of BS 5588-12 is omitted and section 9 and Annex H of BS 9999: 2017 Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings – Code of practice are referred to instead as guidance for complex buildings. This is an interesting and potentially significant change of tack because BS 9999, which the current version of AD B V2 does not refer to, includes at Section 4 recommendations for “Designing for the management of fire risk”.

Following an ‘AD B’ approach to design may imply, therefore, that the building or premises have been designed on the basis that they will be managed in accordance with BS 9999. This is a subtle but significant change of emphasis and seems to imply that if the building owner/occupant does not intend to manage the building or premises in accordance with BS 9999 then this should be made expressly clear at key design stages and at the issue of Fire Safety Information.

Elsewhere in the safety landscape, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, (“the CDM Regulations”) require a Construction Phase Plan and Health and Safety File, which are defined at Regulation 12, which states:

“1) During the pre-construction phase, and before setting up a construction site, the principal contractor must draw up a construction phase plan or make arrangements for a construction phase plan to be drawn up.

(3) The principal designer must assist the principal contractor in preparing the construction phase plan by providing to the principal contractor all information the principal designer holds that is relevant to the construction phase plan including—

(a) pre-construction information obtained from the client;

(b) any information obtained from designers under regulation 9(3)(b).

(5) During the pre-construction phase, the principal designer must prepare a health and safety file appropriate to the characteristics of the project which must contain information relating to the project which is likely to be needed during any subsequent project to ensure the health and safety of any person.

(10) At the end of the project, the principal designer, or where there is no principal designer the principal contractor, must pass the health and safety file to the client.”

Time will tell if and how the recommendations of “Building a Safer Future”, [4] the review of the Building Regulations undertaken by Dame Judith Hackitt, (“the Hackitt Review”), will be taken up, and how the “Golden thread of building information” that the Hackitt Review refers to will be implemented, not only for High Risk Residential Buildings, but also for all buildings and premises subject to fire safety risk assessment.

The Fire Safety Information required by the Building Regulations, the Fire Safety Manual required by BS 9999 and the Health and Safety Information File required by the CDM Regulations all work to the same end; the safety of the person. How effectively they are all interwoven, coordinated and integrated and how rigorously they are applied on every project will be crucial to the successful implementation of the “Golden thread of building information” with its promise of a safer future.

[1] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2214/regulation/38/made

[2] As defined by article 3 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

[3] MHCLG Clarification of Approved Document B and Next Steps for Part B of the Building Regulations. A consultation paper 19 July 2018

[4] Building a Safer Future Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report

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