Controlling Smoke for a Clearer Future

controlling smoke for a clearer future

Over the last two years since the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, all of us in the construction industry will have seen, experienced and felt the first steps of change in the approach to the design, construction and management of fire safety, particularly in residential buildings.

The government commissioned the Hackitt independent review of the Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The Hackitt review identified a systematic failure underpinned by ignorance, indifference, a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities and inadequate regulatory oversight and enforcement tools. There is insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible.

The government is proposing a radically new building and fire safety system which puts resident’s safety at its heart. Approved Document B has been republished to provide more specific advice on how to meet the fire safety requirements of the Building Regulations.

New Building Regulations have been introduced prohibiting the use of nearly all combustible materials in the external walls of residential buildings more than 18 meters tall. These may be extended to include other high-risk buildings in the future.

The construction industry has not stood still during this process. Many stakeholders within the industry, including designers, developers, contractors and building operators, have been implementing their measures to address the problems.

Examples of this include:

  • Early decisions to adopt safer external wall construction specifications.
  • The increased level of sprinkler protection in buildings.
  • The implementation of tighter construction management controls ahead of any changes to regulations.
  • An approval scheme for the smoke control industry.

It is still too early to predict what a new building and fire safety system will look like, but the objective of improving building quality is clear. Our industry will face many challenges over the next few years to improve the approach to the design, construction and management of fire safety to deliver better building quality.

Consultancy

There have been several changes to the fire safety requirements of the Building Regulations over the last six months, with more planned in the future.

Regulation 7 was amended in November 2018 to restrict the use of combustible materials within the external walls of residential and institutional buildings with a floor more than 18 meters above ground. Approved Document B has been revised and comes into effect in August 2019.

To achieve compliance with building regulation, Building Control and the London Fire Brigade are taking a more rigorous approach in their application of the guidance outlined in Approved Document B, BS 9999 and BS 9991.

Talks by Steve Morgan, FDS director, on ‘The Consequences of Tighter Regulation’ and John Harris, head of sales and marketing, on ‘The Benefits of Working with Expert Fire Engineers’ will review implications stemming from a tighter approach to ADB and look at the design solutions impacting the residential & commercial sectors.

Design

Key to project efficiency is a detailed design that meets the objectives of the development. The design should be outlined in the early stages of a project, enabling potential issues to be raised and full compliance with the required regulations and codes of practice assured.

The session, ‘Designing Compliant Solutions’, from FDS technical manager Simon Sheldon, will look at the particular requirements and challenges for design and demonstrate a path through the vast sea of standards.

Installation

One of the key recommendations as an outcome of the recent fire safety reviews was the creation of a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) comprising Local Authority Building Standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to oversee management of safety risks in high-rise residential buildings (HRRB) across their entire life cycle.

With the complexity of fire safety and smoke ventilation systems, engaging with a single specialist contractor for design, installation and commissioning as well as service and maintenance can have significant benefits for a project.

The session ‘Installer Competence and Smoke Control Product with Independent Certification by international HVAS consultant for SCA Allan Hurdle, will be looking at the advantages of seeking expertise from specialists and how businesses can accommodate the proposed regulatory changes.

Maintenance

No matter how efficient the completion and handover of your smoke control system, the ongoing reliability is dependent on numerous variable factors such as size, age, complexity, usage, failures, neglect, damage etc. Only through a programme of regular structured maintenance can you be confident of successful system operation in a real-life fire scenario.

Simon Sheldon, will also be discussing the requirements and best practice for maintenance and how to achieve ongoing reliability for the life of the building in his session, ‘The Importance of Fire Safety System Maintenance: Will it work when you need it?’

Event

The event will conclude with a complimentary wine tasting, with a selection of 8 wines and complimenting cheeses and an opportunity to discuss the latest reforms in smoke control with industry experts.

Get in touch today if you would be interested in attending this event to see if there are any tickets remaining.