Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Fire Safety Regulations

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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1231. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his views on whether restricting escape routes from bedrooms to routes through the kitchen not including sprinklers and having a minimum distance of only 1.8 metres from escape route to potential kitchen fire are adequate safeguards in view of the revised Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety (2006). [3307/20]

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)
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Part B and Technical Guidance Document (TGD) B of the Building Regulations deal with Fire Safety.  Part B of the Second Schedule of the Building Regulations sets the legal performance requirements of buildings and the associated TGD B provides guidance on how to achieve that performance for common building types. Where works are carried out in accordance with the guidance in TGD B, this will, prima facie, indicate compliance with Part B.

The design of apartments, in Ireland, has been evolving over recent years, as design teams learn from best practice around the world. In particular, open plan apartments are becoming increasingly popular. TGD B 2006 did not provide specific guidance on open plan apartment arrangements. In 2018, following liaison with Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB), a working group of experts from DFB and my Department was set up to examine the issue of open plan apartments in Ireland and develop appropriate guidance.

In developing the additional guidance, standards, tests, engineering approaches were considered and fire safety requirements in a number of jurisdictions, including England, Scotland, America, Australia, Denmark and Hong Kong were reviewed.  

The aim of the additional national guidance is to provide both local authorities and industry with greater clarity on how to achieve and demonstrate compliance with Part B for open plan apartments and to promote consistency across the country.

The additional guidance amending TGD B 2006 published in February 2020 has a number of provisions for buildings containing apartments and includes a new section specifying provisions for open plan apartments.

In relation to internal layouts and provisions for open plan apartments with travel distances exceeding 9m, the guidance provides for 

- sprinkler protection within the apartment to control fire development;

- maximum travel distances within the apartment of 20m; 

- single storey apartments only;

- an enhanced fire detection and alarm systems within the apartment; interconnected alarms in circulation areas, bedrooms and high risk areas to ensure early detection and warning of a fire; and

- enclosed kitchens or a distance of 1.8m from the main kitchen cooking appliances to the escape route, which is in line with international research and testing.

For smaller apartments, with travel distances less than or equal to 9m, the guidance in TGD B has not changed. TGD B has referenced BS 5588 Part 1: 1990 since the introduction of Building Regulations in 1991, and this continues to be applicable. In these apartments, the travel distances from the flat entrance door to any point in any habitable room cannot exceed 9 m, no habitable room can be an inner room, the position of any cooking facilities should be remote from the dwelling entrance door and not prejudice the escape route from any point in the apartment. This typically applies to small studio type flats with open internal layouts.

In response to the Deputy’s question, the additional guidance to TGD B published in February 2020 does not permit a distance of 1.8 metres from the escape route to the main kitchen cooking appliance in non-sprinklered apartments.  It should also be noted that an escape route from a bedroom cannot be through a kitchen in a non-sprinklered apartment, as no habitable room can be an inner room in accordance with BS 5588 Part 1: 1990, as currently referenced in TGDB.

It should be noted that the additional guidance to TGD B published in February 2020 provides guidance on other aspects of fire safety for buildings containing apartments and these are set out at the beginning of reprint TGD B 2020.  All of the guidance in TGD B (Reprint 2020) should be considered collectively, as fire safety must be addressed in a holistic manner, considering building resilience and ensuring a building is safe for occupant egress and firefighter operations simultaneously.


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