Approved Document B (Fire Safety) Amendment – what you need to know


On Thursday 26th November 2020, an amendment was made to Approved Document B (Fire Safety) (ADB) such that the height threshold for provision of sprinklers is no longer triggered at 30 metres, but now at 11 metres for residential buildings, extensions, change of use or material alteration and mixed use properties under Regulation 3 (Building Works). Provisions of additional way finding shall also be required in properties above 11m in height.

A transition period has been included whereby the amendments do not apply in any case where a building notice (BN) or an initial notice (IN) has been given to, or (FP) full plans deposited with, a local authority and either the building work to which it relates has started before 26th November 2020 or is due to start before 29 January 2021.

Key Points for In Scope Projects

The regulations include no recommendation to install sprinklers within common areas where such areas are fire sterile (relevant to flats only).

There is also an amendment to Table 4 in ADB volumes 1 and 2 purpose group which takes account that relevant buildings over 11 metres without sprinklers are not permitted.

Appendix E (ADB Vol 1&2) remains unchanged and recommends that sprinklers for residential shall be installed in accordance with of BS 9251, or BS EN 12845.

Way finding is now required in buildings over 11 metres, and the amendments set out the recommended locations for this signage and guidance on typeface and wording. Signage should be easily legible and readable in low level lighting conditions or when illuminated with a torch.

For extensions, adding additional floors as encouraged by planning relaxations has highlighted another risk of fire safety in relation to the existing structure. The intention here is that the existing part of a building should not compromise the new building addition(s) above. This may require additional way finding, sprinkler retrofit or fire engineered assessments, feasibility costs or intrusive investigations where B4 (1) applies, which can affect the consideration to extend upwards. More information on this can be found in the MHCLG circular 03/2020.

For further advice on how this affects your project, get in touch with our Head of Technical Quality, Paul Pearce.