Northern Ireland proposes new fire sprinklers for all new high-rise apartments


Share this content


Introduction of fire sprinklers in new builds over 11 metres

The Northern Ireland government has initiated a public consultation on the proposed changes to local Building Regulations, with a specific emphasis on fire safety measures.

The consultation, which was launched on 3 July 2023 and is set to conclude on 25 September 2023, is aimed at elevating fire safety protocols in buildings.

The proposed amendments will primarily focus on residential buildings, particularly multi-residential ones.

An overview of the fire safety measures proposed

The intended effect of the proposed changes is to mitigate the consequences of fires by saving lives and preventing injuries.

The Department is planning to revise Part E (Fire safety) of the Building Regulations and the accompanying Technical Booklet E (Fire safety).

Under the new proposed amendments, a fresh functional regulation in Part E is to be introduced.

This regulation will necessitate those carrying out the work to provide sufficient fire safety information to the relevant party who has fire safety duties.

This requirement will apply to buildings with flats more than 11m above the ground level.

The role of fire sprinklers in enhancing safety

The new prescriptive regulation in Part E will mandate the installation of suitable automatic fire suppression systems, such as fire sprinklers, in specific types of buildings.

These will encompass buildings containing flats and purpose-built student accommodations with a floor more than 11m above the ground level.

Additionally, all residential care premises will also need to have these systems, regardless of their height.

Several changes to the Technical Booklet E (Fire safety) are also proposed. These will provide guidance on new requirements for fire safety information and the installation of automatic fire suppression systems.

They also aim to increase smoke alarm coverage in all new dwellings and clarify the measures required for adequate smoke ventilation from common escape routes in buildings with flats.

The guidelines will also enhance facilities and access for the Fire and Rescue Service, aiding firefighters in search and rescue operations and firefighting.

An online information event will be held on Tuesday 18 July where the Department will present these proposals.

Those unable to attend can access an anonymised Q&A summary and a voiced-over video presentation on the official consultation page.

Responses to the consultation will be accepted until the closing date, Monday 25 September 2023.

IFSJ Comment

This represents a proactive step towards enhancing fire safety in buildings, particularly residential ones.

The introduction of fire sprinklers and other fire suppression systems in high-rise buildings could significantly reduce the risk of fire-related fatalities and injuries, thus promoting safer living conditions for residents.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox