The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is warning that current UK fire safety guidance is “deeply flawed”, and wants two staircases built in all new tower blocks.
In its response to the Government’s technical consultation on Approved Document B, RIBA says the Government falls short on minimum prescriptive requirements to keep people safe and save lives.
Among other recommendations surrounding sprinklers and centrally addressable fire alarms, RIBA also said residential buildings must be designed so that it is both safe to stay put and safe to evacuate in the event of a fire.
On June 14 2017, a fire at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of public housing flats in West London caused at least 80 deaths and over 70 injuries (see related article).
The Chair of RIBA’s Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, Jane Duncan, said the Grenfell tragedy illustrated that a “stay put” policy can be devastating when a fire spreads quickly.
“We simply cannot allow buildings to continue to be built to regulations and guidance that everyone, including the government, acknowledges are deeply flawed.”
“20 months on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, to continue with more consultation but not enough action fails the public and does not honour the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.”
“All residents should have the right to the added protection offered by sprinkler systems, to know if a fire breaks out in their building, and to be safely evacuated if necessary. This means the guidance must change to ensure a better warning system and an alternative means of escape.”
RIBA key recommendations:
- Sprinklers – a requirement for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems to be provided in all new and converted residential buildings, and installed in existing residential buildings above 18m whenever significant refurbishment or alteration work is carried out.
- Alternative means of escape – in new multiple occupancy residential buildings, a requirement for at least two staircases, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or more than three storeys above the ground level storey (as required for commercial buildings).
- Centrally addressable fire alarms – in all new and converted multiple occupancy residential buildings and in existing residential buildings above 18m whenever significant refurbishment or alteration work is carried out.
Read RIBA’s full technical submission.