Investigations are ongoing into the Grenfell Tower tragedy on 14 June 2017 in which 72 people lost their lives. Two years on, new legislation has been passed in an attempt to stop history repeating itself.
The Scottish Government set up a ministerial working group on Building and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. As a result, amendments have been made to the current Building standards, which are to come into force on 1 October 2019.
What are the changes?
(1) All high rise buildings (residential or not) must be fitted with non-combustible cladding (defined as A1) or cladding with limited combustion and no flashover (defined as A2). These should not catch alight, and instead work to slow a fire.
(2) Extending mandatory sprinkler installation in high rise residential properties and care facilities, to suppress fires in a targeted way.
(3) Introducing new measures to help fire crews during evacuations: sound alerts and signs indicating each floor / dwelling.
(4) Requiring two escape stairs in new high rise residential buildings, to assist in safe evacuations. The exemptions for one escape stair will no longer apply.
(5) Introducing measures to assist residents during evacuations: sound alert systems and specific guidance to be issued beforehand.
(6) Developing safety compliance plans for high risk buildings and a database to capture fire safety information relating to existing high rise residential buildings. This will allow for a consistent approach to fire safety in high risk buildings across Scotland.
For the amended Building Standards please visit: https://www.gov.scot/policies/building-standards/monitoring-improving-building-regulations/
Which properties are affected?
(1) All new high rise residential buildings must adhere to all of the new standards. The storey height for defining a high rise building has been lowered from 18 metres to 11 metres. In real terms this means any property of 4 floors or more could be affected.
(2) Any existing high rise residential buildings or care facilities may require to be retrospectively fitted with new fire safety measures to ensure compliance. This will also be relevant when applying for building warrants for an existing high rise residential property.
(3) Entertainment and assembly buildings, hospitals and residential care buildings must comply with the cladding requirement.
(4) Non-domestic buildings with a storey height of 11 metres or more must also comply with the cladding requirement.
What actions should my business or organisation take?
These new standards set the minimum compliance for developers, contractors and consultants to consider when working on one of the aforementioned property types.
We recommend taking account of these new requirements at an early stage and seeking advice on which changes apply to your project. This will allow for smooth planning applications, and promote positive change in the fire safety practices for all new developments.
New building standards are expected to come into force in February 2021. They are expected to require two interlinked smoke alarms and a heat detector in all homes (not just private rented properties). This will affect fire safety requirements for all new residential homes and some existing ones.