Last edited 23 Jul 2018

Approved Document B

Approved document b.jpg


[edit] Overview

The first set of national building standards was introduced in 1965. The 'building regulations' establish standards that have to be achieved in the construction of buildings. They set out:

  • What qualifies as ‘building work’ and so falls under the control of the regulations.
  • What types of buildings are exempt.
  • The notification procedures that must be followed when starting, carrying out, and completing building work.
  • Requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction.

The 'approved documents' provide guidance for satisfying the requirements of the building regulations in common building situations.

Part B of the building regulations in England that covers fire safety matters within and around buildings. The approved documents to Part B are in two volumes:

The most recent editions were published in January 2013 and came into effect in April 2013. They replaced Approved Document B (2006) which incorporated 2010 amendments. The main changes brought in by the 2013 edition included:

The contents of the Approved Documents includes:

  • Section B1: Means of warning and escape. This covers fire detection and fire alarm systems as well as means of escape. Volume 2 also includes means of escape from flats, design for horizontal escape in buildings other than flats, design for vertical escape, and general provisions.
  • Section B2: Internal fire spread (linings). Covering the classification of wall and ceiling linings, and thermoplastic materials.
  • Section B3: Internal fire spread (structure). Loadbearing elements of structure, compartmentation, concealed spaces (cavities), protection of openings and fire-stopping. Volume 2 also covers special provisions for car parks and shopping complexes.
  • Section B4: External fire spread. Construction of external walls, space separation, and roof coverings.
  • Section B5: Access and facilities for the fire and rescue service. Volume 2 also covers fire mains and hydrants, and the venting of heat and smoke from basements.
  • Appendix A: Performance of materials, products and structures.
  • Appendix B: Fire doors.
  • Appendix C: Methods of measurement.
  • Appendix D: Purpose groups.
  • Appendix E: Definitions.
  • (Volume 1) Appendix F: Standards and other publications referred to.
  • (Volume 2) Appendix F: Fire behavior of insulating core panels used for internal structures.
  • (Volume 2) Appendix G: Fire safety information.
  • (Volume 2) Appendix H: Standards and other publications referred to.

[edit] Amendments to statutory guidance on assessments in lieu of tests

On 28 July 2017, following the Grenfell Tower fire, then-Communities Secretary Sajid Javid MP announced an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety. For more information, see Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Housing published a consultation paper which is proposing to limit or stop the use of desktop studies for assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems. This is intended to strengthen fire testing for cladding systems on residential buildings.

Views are sought on whether calculations-based desktop studies, as opposed to actual physical tests, are appropriate for all construction products. If they are deemed to be appropriate, the proposed changes include:

  • Transparency of assessments.
  • Proper scrutiny of test results.
  • Ensuring studies can be carried out only by properly accredited bodies.

The revisions contained in the consultation paper 'Amendments to statutory guidance on assessments in lieu of test in Approved Document B (Fire Safety)', are a result of the recommendations made by the interim Hackitt report published in 2017.

The Ministry of Housing claims if the proposed changes are made to Approved Document B, it would cost industry £8m over the first 10 years.


[edit] Updates

In July 2018, the government announced it was to launch a full-scale review of Approved Document B in the autumn of 2018 to clarify and reduce the complexity of fire safety guidance in the Building Regulations following the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt.

The aim of this technical review will be to assess whether, in light of modern building practices, latest understanding of fire risks and scientific innovations, the underlying guidance should be updated.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said; "Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary. That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn.”

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