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Fire safety regulations can cause anguish for many homeowners, but it is vital to get them right before the building inspector comes calling. Part B of the building regulations in England covers fire safety matters within and around buildings. A new clarified version of Approved Document B was published in July 2019. In June 2022, new amendments to the Building Regulations were introduced. The majority of amendments apply from December 1st 2022 (with a transitional period of 6 months). Some of the main points laid out by the Approved Document Part B are detailed below.

There are two aspects to be considered:

  • Fire spread between properties through “unprotected areas”
  • Means of escape in case of fire

UNPROTECTED AREAS

 According to Approved Document B1 of the Building Regulations, ‘Fire Safety: Dwelling houses’, the term ‘unprotected area’ in relation to a side or external wall of a building means:

  1. Windows, doors or other openings. This does not include windows that are designed and glazed to give the necessary level of fire resistance and that are not openable.
  2. Any part of the external wall which has less than the relevant fire resistance set out in Section 11.
  3. Any part of the external wall constructed of material more than 1mm thick if that material does not have a class B-s3, d2 rating or better, which is attached or applied, whether for cladding or any other purpose.

External doors and windows may need to have fire resistance and (in the case of doors) be self-closing or (in the case of windows) be fixed shut to limit the risk of fire spread between adjacent properties. The area of walls, doors and windows permitted to have reduced or undetermined fire resistance (known as “unprotected areas”) will be dependent on how close these elements are to the boundary.

MEANS OF ESCAPE 

There is a requirement to provide emergency escape windows to habitable rooms on the ground and first-floor levels of up to two-storey dwellings unless a protected route is provided from those rooms to the final exit. All habitable rooms on the ground floor should either open directly into an entrance hall or other suitable exit or be provided with an escape window (note: kitchens, utility rooms and bathrooms are not considered habitable rooms). That means any window provided for emergency egress purposes and any external door provided for escape should comply with the following condition:

  • A fire escape window should open without obstruction to at least 0.33m² and at least 450mm high or 450mm wide. If one of the dimensions is at the 450mm minimum, then the other dimension will need to be at least 734mm to achieve 0.33m².
  • The bottom of the openable area should be no more than 1100mm above the floor.

Windows fitted with our Fire Escape and Easy Clean hinges comply with the above regulations as long as the openings are sufficient. For homes of three or more storeys where floors occur 4.5m or more above the outside ground level, egress windows are not an option for fire safety. In this case, a protected stairway must be created that is continuous to an external door at ground level.

When replacing any window, the opening should be sized to provide at least the same potential for escape as the window it replaces. If the original window that is being replaced was larger than necessary for the purpose of escape, then the new window opening could be reduced to the minimum as specified in the criteria above.

The means of escape should be considered for any new window installed to an extension or existing dwelling. If an escape window is required, then the criteria mentioned earlier should be followed. It is also generally good practice to replace any window on the first floor that is not used as an escape window with an escape window. Only one window per room is generally required.

Please note, Emergency Egress & suitable Escape Windows should be not obstructed.

If you are still unsure whether your windows/doors require to be suitable to be used as a fire escape, please speak to the authoritative figure responsible for planning your project before placing your order with us, or simply contact us and we will be happy to help.

This article is based on BUILDING REGULATIONS B1.

Source – Blog Post from ranebrook.co.uk

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