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High-Risk Buildings (HRB) – a Fire Strategy will be essential!

On 1 October 2023, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) became the Building Control Authority for all higher-risk buildings (HRBs) in England.

If you’re planning any projects on higher-risk buildings in England, you need building control approval from the BSR before any building work can commence.

What is a Higher-Risk Building (HRB)?

Classified on gov website:
During the design and construction phases, a higher-risk building has at least 7 storeys or is at least 18 metres in height and either:

  • is a hospital or care home
  • has at least 2 residential units

Documents you need to prepare 

As part of your building control application, it is required that you gather and maintain the following fire safety documents. These fire safety documents are essential and must be kept current throughout the construction process, as they constitute a portion of the necessary records you are obligated to maintain.

The fire and emergency file outlines the premises on which the building’s management and maintenance strategies are based, particularly once it is operational. This document must address the mitigation of fire spread and the prevention of structural failure from the outset of construction. It is required to encompass:

  • The foundational assumptions guiding the design and intended use of the building, which should be both realistic and thoroughly vetted, accompanied by a well-founded explanation.
  • The measures that responsible individuals must implement to guarantee a safe evacuation process.
  • Provisions for enabling fire and rescue services to access the site, building, and water sources essential for firefighting efforts.
  • A comprehensive fire strategy that details the methods for adhering to the functional requirements A3 and B1 to B5 outlined in Schedule 1 of the building regulations.

Global Technical Service (GTS) – Fire Strategies

Our team of experts work hard to ensure that all Fire Strategies carried out by GTS are to the highest standard and are as meticulous as possible, outlining every detail.

GTS can provide:

  • Fire strategy production and review for any client in line with the RIBA stages.
  • Support at a qualitative design review
  • Fire Safety Management Plans to BS9997
  • Cladding investigations for residential high rise building in preparation for a EWS1 form to be issued and signed by a charted RIBA member
  • Fire Engineered design and review for solutions that do not fall in line with ADB (BS 9999, BS 9991 and bespoke fire engineered solutions)
  • EWS1 surveys and Fire Risk assessments for residential and non-residential building
  • Fire Strategy Drawings and Compartmentation Drawings
  • Provide advice to clients for pre-consultation meetings with building control or other local authorities to meet the designer’s vision

Do it Right First Time Contact us today to find out more or get a free quote for a fire strategy

Fire Door Inspection Walk-through

Are you capable of carrying out fire door inspections?

The purpose of the Bespoke Level 3 Qualification Fire Door Inspections Course is to allow learners to demonstrate that they are capable of carrying out fire door inspections and have the under-pinning knowledge needed, at the required depth and to confirm occupational competence.

It has become a legal requirement for the responsible person(s) of multi-occupant residential buildings over 11 meters to undertake fire door inspections once annually on fire doors at the entrances of individual domestic premises.

The responsible person(s) must also undertake inspections on any fire door in communal areas every three months.

This legal requirement aims to improve the fire safety of high-rise buildings and hold the correct individuals accountable for any failure to comply.

Global Academy’s Bespoke Level 3 Fire Door Qualification Course will make you fully compliant. Get in touch directly for a quote for business or multiple applicants. Monthly dates are available at our training suite.

Training Provided by Global Technical Services (GTS)

Assembled of individuals from backgrounds such as fire safety, firefighting, military, and infrastructure design and build, the GTS team has a combined experience of 233 years.

Fire Strategy in Building Design and Safety

In today’s climate conscious building environment, marked (some may say marred) by new materials and technologies, a comprehensive fire strategy is fundamental to safeguarding lives and ensuring regulatory compliance. Global Technical Services (GTS) excels in creating fire strategies that align with the RIBA stages ensuring safety and compliance from initial design, throughout the building’s lifecycle.

Developing a Holistic Fire Strategy

A robust fire strategy encompasses every aspect of a building’s design, operation, maintenance and occupancy. GTS’s approach integrates fire safety considerations seamlessly into the architectural vision, adapting to each RIBA stage. This involves evaluating risks and proposing solutions that enhance safety without compromising aesthetics or functionality. This is supported through GTS’s Fire Scrutineer service through various design and construction hold points.

Navigating Regulations and Empowering Responsible Persons

GTS’s fire strategies address the complexities of fire safety regulations, particularly aligning with Approved Document B, B1 to B5, BS9999 and BS7974. These strategies empower the responsible person with an understanding of the building’s fire safety systems, enabling informed decision-making and effective management. While the fire strategy will form part of the Regulation 38 pack, it can also act as a guide to ensure the responsible person understands the comprehensive fire safety information, systems, equipment and their interactions; essential for maintaining safety standards within their area of responsibility.

Evolving Strategies for Design and Existing Buildings

Our strategies evolve with each RIBA stage, reflecting design changes to maintain relevance and effectiveness. For existing buildings, GTS’s retrospective strategies demonstrate compliance with previous legislation, guiding renovations to enhance safety standards.

Case Study: Enhancing Fire Safety in Heritage Hotels

A testament to the practical impact of fire strategies is GTS’s work with a chain of existing hotels across England, Scotland, and Wales. This project exemplifies the pivotal role of retrospective fire strategies in maintaining and enhancing fire safety standards during significant refurbishments.

In these hotels, some of which are historic buildings with listed status, the challenge was to update fire safety measures without compromising the buildings’ integrity. GTS developed bespoke strategies that not only respected the architectural heritage but also ensured compliance with contemporary fire safety standards. The strategies facilitated the implementation of modern fire safety solutions, while preserving the character of these heritage buildings.

This case study highlights the importance of regularly reviewing and updating fire strategies, especially for existing buildings. Changes in regulations, building usage, and advancements in fire safety technology necessitate a dynamic approach to fire strategy planning. For buildings with a long history, like the hotels in this case study, aligning with the latest standards can be a complex task, and may necessitate fire engineered solutions. But a fire strategy is crucial for ensuring safety and compliance, or justifying a bespoke solution. 

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FRAEW – A Breakdown Guide

Produced by Bruce Patterson and Keith Plowman

What is an FRAEW?

FRAEW stands for Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls. It is a systematic process for evaluating the risk posed by external wall construction and cladding in multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings.

Purpose of FRAEW

The purpose of the FRAEW is to inform the Fire Risk Assessment (which now has to take into account the external wall). As such the FRAEW will assess the risk to occupants from fire spreading over or within the external walls of a building. This assessment is crucial in determining whether remediation or other mitigating measures are necessary to address any identified risks, particularly in buildings where combustible materials are present in the external wall construction.

PAS 9980

PAS 9980 serves as a structured framework for suitably qualified professionals conducting Fire Risk Appraisals of External Walls (FRAEW). It lays out a methodical approach for evaluating the fire risk posed by a building’s external wall systems, considering various factors such as the building’s design and materials comprising the external wall system.

Understanding Fire Hazards in External Walls

Fire hazards in external walls primarily involve the potential for rapid fire spread due to combustible materials used in cladding or insulation. These hazards are amplified in high-rise buildings where evacuation may be more challenging, and the reach of fire and rescue services may be limited.

How a Company Will Conduct a FRAEW

The process typically involves the following step:

  • Initial Assessment: Confirming the need for a FRAEW based on building type and characteristics.
  • Data Collection desk top study: Gathering detailed information about the building’s construction, materials used, and any previous assessments.
  • Site Inspection: Visual intrusive inspection of the external walls to understand the materials and construction methods.
  • Risk Analysis: Evaluating the collected data against defined risk factors to assess the potential for fire spread and its impact.
  • Reporting: Compiling a comprehensive report that includes the risk assessment findings, risk rating, and recommendations for risk mitigation.

Key Considerations for a Quality FRAEW

A quality FRAEW should:

  • Be thorough in data collection and inspection
  • Be conducted by competent professionals with expertise in fire engineering and building construction
  • Consider all relevant factors, including building design, materials, and occupant safety
  • Provide clear and actionable recommendations
  • Comply with PAS 9980 process

Benefits of FRAEW Assessments

Benefits of conducting FRAEW assessments include:

  • Informing the FRA.
  • Informed decision-making regarding necessary remedial works.
  • Enhanced safety for building occupants by identifying and mitigating fire risks.
  • Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Greater confidence and peace of mind for residents and building owners.
  • Standardized approach facilitating consistent and reliable risk assessments.
  • FRAEW assessments, particularly when conducted in line with PAS 9980, are crucial in ensuring the safety of buildings against the risk of fire spread through external walls.

Why GTS?

With a foundation rooted in fire service experience, our approach to risk is uniquely grounded in a ‘first-hand life safety perspective.’ Our team comprises a blend of industry professionals, collectively addressing every facet of the thefaçade lifecycle – from initial design, build and maintenance to remediations, and lifetime energy consumption calculations.

FRAEW Intrusive work

FRAEW INTRUSIVE WORK

A FRAEW will assess the materials used to build the external wall or cladding, the workmanship of the final build – e.g. the gaps between the cladding and junctions between different building materials.

A FRAEW will not only cover external walls and cladding, but attachments like balconies, windows and any additional attached buildings.

It will also involve some invasive sampling and investigation of the external walls to ensure that external insulation is also compliant with existing fire safety regulations.

Global will assure any instrusive work done to the external wall will be properly replaced on the same day by a professional, never leaving it left exposed. Making the external wall safe and exactly the same as it was before, as seen below. Saving time and money for management, by not having to source multiple
contractors to remediate.