FPA responds to DLUHC consultation on sprinklers in care homes

PRP has been appointed by the government to carry out research on fire safety regulations in care homes and specialist housing.

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The Fire Protection Association has submitted its response to the DLUHC consultation on sprinklers in care homes, the removal of national classes, and staircases in residential buildings.

In its response, the FPA restated its position that health and life safety should be realised alongside the consideration of property protection. The FPA’s response calls on those responsible not to design and build solely to the ‘life safety before collapse’ objective, and for the application of the LPC Sprinkler Rules.

The FPA said: ““We encourage DLUHC to recognise that the protection of care home buildings as an asset and place of healthcare that provides a vital service to residents and their families in the wider community warrants a commitment to the LPC Sprinkler Rules. Other systems providing suppression or extinguishment for health and life safety only are not sufficient to protect the asset.”

The Association said it opposes a 10-bed threshold as an arbitrary threshold will simply encourage 9 bed facilities, and the proposal to limit the sprinkler requirement to new care homes only:“Most care homes already exist, and this DLUHC proposal limited to new care homes does not retrofit the existing stock as it should.”

On the removal of national classifications, the FPA said it broadly agrees with the DLUHC proposal, but noted the issues surrounding the historic problems arising from the Class 0/B transposition in Approved Document B. 

And on staircases in residential buildings, the FPA said that that the question of evacuation and intervention should be addressed for all buildings regardless of height or occupancy, rather than there being a maximum threshold for the provision of a single staircase in multioccupancy residential buildings.

It noted, however, that the: “Call for two stairs is simplistic. It ignores the combination of measures that may be considered to provide for evacuation and intervention” as even in lower rise buildings that have other fire safety inadequacies, single stairs can become impassable. The provision of stairs is just one factor, and the FPA believe it is important not to leap to the conclusion that all single stair buildings are dangerous.

The FPA’s full submitted response to the consultation can be found here.

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