The Building Standards Technical Handbooks 2020 introduce new standards and guidance applicable to all building warrants submitted from 1 March 2021 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.
The main change is a requirement for sprinklers ("automatic fire suppression systems") in all new flats and maisonettes, new social housing dwellings and new shared multi-occupancy residential buildings.
Automatic sprinkler systems are designed predominantly for life safety purposes but they may also reduce the property damage caused by a fire. The expansion of sprinklers to these new categories of buildings follows significant consultation and research after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Guidance on residential sprinkler systems
The new domestic handbook refers to guidance in an Association of British Insurers (ABI) study: Post Grenfell Research on Residential Sprinkler Systems which gives advice on the procurement of residential sprinkler systems and emphasises the importance of an adequate specification and a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the client, main contractor, fire engineer and sprinkler system supplier.
The 2020 domestic handbook also refers to a policy note on the installation of automatic fire suppression systems produced by Scottish Water: Sprinkler systems for domestic and residential occupancies. It is strongly recommended that housing developers consult both Scottish Water and the suppression system contractor early in the design process for automatic fire suppression systems.
A full list of all the fire safety related changes in the technical handbooks can be found in clause 2.0.5 in each of the domestic and non-domestic handbooks. Other relevant changes include an update to means of escape requirements and evacuation alert systems.
All parties involved in the design and construction of new buildings in Scotland will require to familiarise themselves with these new requirements and the associated guidance. Any ongoing design work should also be reviewed to ensure compliance with these fire safety measures.
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