It is 2 years since we last presented the readers of Fire Prevention and the IFE Journal with information on the Passive Fire Protection of Buildings and since then we have had some major changes in the legislation that governs our activities.
First of all the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into effect in October 2006 and then the revised guidance contained in Approved Document B (AD B) of the Building Regulations became effective in April this year. We also have the Fire Authorities now working with their Integrated Risk Management Strategies and so the whole of the Fire Safety picture is changing or has changed.
The basic principle behind all these matters, the common theme, is that the scale of fire risk has to be faced by the individuals involved in designing, approving, constructing, occupying or whose job is fighting fire in buildings.
Our building regulations are not prescriptive, they require us to construct fire safe structures but the Regulators only offer Guidance on how this should be done and the developer and his design team are free to make proposals, based on their assessment of the risks, which fulfil that basic need. Similarly the Regulatory Authorities will view those proposals and assess the risk involved in accepting them, particularly if they are not strictly in line with the advice given in AD B. The assessment of risk continues when the building is occupied as the “Responsible Person” must undertake their own risk assessment and consider where the risk of fire lies and if the mitigation in place is adequate and the trail comes to an end when the Fire and Rescue Service consider the level of risk and how they will react to that risk.
It is those constructing the buildings that have to interpret the design requirements and select products, methods or systems that meet the requirements. They are ADVISED in AD B that the use of Third Party Certificated products installed by similarly accredited installers may be the best way of ensuring the performance of the fire resistant elements of the structure; again they must take responsibility upon themselves for their selections. The RRO makes it quite clear that a failure on the part of a contracting company may result in direct action against that party so those concerned, as at all other stages, may be personally liable in the event of failure.
The “Strap Line” of the PFPF is “Fire Safety – Built In” because all those companies involved in this sector of the Fire Safety Industry provide products and services that allow the user to construct his building to known standards of performance. What we aim to do in this supplement is provide all the people involved with up to date guidance on how they can fulfil their duty. We cannot answer all questions in one document but we can and will attempt to provide sources of advice on all aspects of the PFP elements in buildings and the regulatory guidance given by the authorities.
The PFPF members are mostly Trade Bodies and as such experts in their sector of activity and you will find that described towards the end of the supplement, all have detailed guidance on their sector available freely through their web-sites.