Fire safety regulations in Northern Ireland buildings undergo significant consultation

Share this content


Sweeping changes to fire safety regulations proposed

A public consultation has been proposed for enhancing fire safety measures within local building regulations in Northern Ireland.

This information comes via a release on the Northern Ireland government’s Department of Finance website, accessible through this link.

The local Building Regulations’ fire safety provisions play a vital role in maintaining life safety standards for both building occupants and firefighting personnel.

Moreover, these regulations contribute to property protection.

The proposed amendments primarily focus on the safety measures in residential buildings, specifically in multi-residential properties.

The goal is to provide additional assurance and safety measures for residents.

Some changes are also aimed at assisting the Fire and Rescue Service, ensuring they can provide an effective operational response.

The overarching intent of these proposals is to diminish the adverse effects of fire incidents, by saving lives and preventing injuries.

Greater emphasis on fire safety information and automatic suppression systems

The consultation entails a series of changes to Part E (Fire safety) of the Building Regulations, and the accompanying guidelines in Technical Booklet E (Fire safety) (TBE).

One proposal involves introducing a new regulation mandating the provision of adequate fire safety information by the person responsible for the work, to those having fire safety duties in any ‘relevant premises’ as defined under ‘The Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006’.

This requirement will also be applicable to buildings with flats located more than 11m above ground level.

Another significant proposal calls for a new regulation requiring suitable automatic fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, in certain types of buildings.

These include buildings with flats and purpose-built student accommodations, both having a storey more than 11m above the ground level, and all residential care premises, regardless of storey height.

Subheading: “Improved guidance and changes to technical booklet E for enhanced fire safety”

The proposed changes extend to the Technical Booklet E (Fire safety), which aims to improve fire safety information, provide better guidance on sprinklers, and enhance smoke alarm coverage in all new dwellings.

The booklet will also clarify measures necessary for adequate smoke ventilation from common escape routes in flat-containing buildings.

Moreover, it will incorporate guidance for ‘Facilities and Access for the Fire and Rescue Service’ to help firefighters in search and rescue operations and firefighting.

The Department of Finance held an online information event on Tuesday 18 July to outline these proposals.

The department will review all responses to this consultation received before the closing date, Monday 25 September 2023.

Those interested can respond to the consultation here.

IFSJ Comment

The proposed amendments signify a promising step towards greater fire safety measures in Northern Ireland.

They have the potential to significantly improve life safety standards for residents, firefighting personnel, and properties.

By focusing on critical aspects such as fire safety information dissemination, use of automatic fire suppression systems, and improved guidance in dealing with fire incidents, these changes could set a precedent for fire safety regulation enhancements globally.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox