Scotland Strengthens Fire Regulations
In July 2019, the Scottish Government published a new technical handbook addressing fire safety within both domestic and non-domestic buildings. The planned changes in guidance came into force on the 1st of October 2019. This legislation has demanded a transformation of the marketplace through eliminating the use of many traditional materials, aiming to ensure that the external walls on all high-rise buildings resist the spread of flames.
These changes to building standards make amendments to the 2004 Scottish Buildings Regulations and follow the recommendations of two independent reviews of Scottish building guidelines, which had been commissioned by the government in September 2017. By prohibiting the use of combustible materials on all buildings over 11 metres in height, they are forcing the construction industry to take action.
In 2018, the Scottish Government had announced that owners and developers of new high-rise buildings must prepare and maintain documented compliance plans for the design and construction of a building, from the pre-application phase to completion, as well as critical safety information. This is to be stored in a secure electronic database, ensuring that all high-rise buildings are of acceptable safety standards.
Scotland’s newly strengthened fire standards include updated requirements for the combustibility of external cladding materials and wall attachments, including balconies.
These rules differ from those in England as they apply to buildings over 11 metres in height (rather than 18 metres) and all building types (as opposed to only residential, boarding schools, prisons and hospitals). There is also less clarity over any exemptions, for example to electrical items, fixings, or thermal breaks. Also they allow the use of BR135, or BS8414 (allowing for BS9414:2019’s updates).
External walls or balconies should now be constructed of products achieving European Classification A1 or A2 from the EN13501 Harmonised European Standard.
EnviroBuild offers fully compliant non-combustible balcony flooring systems in both aluminium decking and porcelain, designed to provide a solution for all plug-on or recess balcony types.
Our Sentinel Euro Class B Fire Rated range from Hyperion Cladding can still be used on buildings up to 11 metres in height in Scotland.
The new guidance has also introduced requirements for second escape staircases, evacuation alert systems, storey identification signs and dwelling indicator signs for buildings of 18 metres or more in height. This is to help fire and rescue services during evacuations, as well as to improve public security and awareness.
Kevin Stewart, the Scottish Housing Minister, highlighted commitment to strengthening regulation when stating that “the tragic events at Grenfell Tower just over two years ago was a painful reminder how important building and fire safety is”. The Grenfell catastrophe demanded improvements to fire regulation and occupant safety equal to the continued focus on construction worker safety. Scotland’s strengthened building regulations will be progressive in reaching enhanced safety standards, with the implementation of more rigorous guidelines than those introduced in the English combustibles ban of December 2018.