Avatar photo


Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
September 21, 2016


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

Energy-efficient designs are making balconies more of a fire risk, says DCLG report

Design measures taken to optimise energy efficiency in residential developments are potentially making balconies a greater fire risk, a report from BRE Global has concluded.

Conducted for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), ‘Fire safety issues with balconies‘ found that methods deployed to meet Part L of the building regulations – such as improving insulation and preventing thermal bridging – may be compromising fire safety as stipulated by Part B.

This unforeseen trade-off between compliance with Part L and Part B was evident in several case studies cited in the report.


Fire damage to 16-storey block of flats caused by holes in compartmentation on balconies

In one case a fire began on a concrete balcony with timber decking and timber battens, which were underlain by polyethylene spacer rings and foam insulation covered by a woven plastic sheet. Insulation behind cladding systems on external walls and expanded polystyrene insulation behind a render on the balcony ceiling played a role in the fire’s spread, which ultimately encompassed the decking of an adjacent flat’s balcony.

The provision of outside space has been central to the of the rehabilitation of high-rise living, while the housing crisis has made the economic case for building multi-storey apartment blocks irresistible

Too wide open to intepretation

The report also found that Part B fails to provide specific fire design guidance for balconies, except where they can provide a means of escape. Lacking statutory requirements that account for the role of balconies in the external spread of fire, the building regulations are too wide open to interpretation, the report concludes.

BRE also found that fires that start on a balcony can spread, via windows, to the balcony and flat above, while inappropriate cladding material can promote the spread of fire up the building’s entire façade. This can result in falling, burning debris, potentially spreading the fire to adjacent buildings.

As yet, no fatalities have been attributed to a balcony fire. However, BRE Global urges designers, specifiers, property developers, managers, risk assessors and firefighters to give the heed the lessons of their investigations.

BRE Global reported on six fire incidents involving balconies in 2015 compared with just one in 2005. This number is sure to grow with high-rise living undergoing a renaissance.

Once synonymous with deprivation and social isolation – a legacy of the profusion of ugly 1960s tower blocks – many new developments are now pitched at the top end of the market.

The provision of outside space has been central to the rehabilitation of high-rise living, while the housing crisis and high land prices have made the economic case for building multi-storey apartment blocks irresistible.

Three quarters of the 436 towers scheduled for construction in London will be used at least partially for residential purposes, according to think-tank New London Architecture (NLA).


2023 Fire Safety eBook – Grab your free copy!

Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.


Related Topics

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
phim cach nhiet ntech
October 5, 2016 9:01 am

Phim http://www.phimcachnhiet.com.vn/san-pham/1289_phim-dan-cho-kinh-van-phong-va-chung-cu.html (hoặc
căn hộ) cần đạt được yêu cầu cơ bản là có độ cách nhiệt cao, các thông
số khác như độ phản gương, độ xuyên sáng thường không phải là yếu tố ưu
tiên. Do vậy, các mã phim sản xuất bằng công nghệ Phún xạ hoặc tráng phủ
kim loại là các sản phẩm được đa số khách hàng tin dùng và lựa chọn.