Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
June 1, 2022


Whitepaper: Enhancing security, resilience and efficiency across a range of industries

Building safety

New Government fire guidance covers information boxes, evac alert systems and tougher external wall system standards

The Government has announced new fire safety guidance for England, designed to ensure tall buildings are made safer and said to meet recommendations from Phase One of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

C-Tec-EvacAlert-22The new guidance covers several important developments, including:

  • All new residential buildings over 11m will now have to include a Secure Information Box to provide fire and rescue services (FRS) more information about a building
  • New residential developments over 18m will have to incorporate an Evacuation Alert System to support FRS inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy during an incident
  • Tougher standards for external wall materials on new medium-rise blocks of flats
    • a ban on combustible materials being used will now extend to new hotels, hostels and boarding houses
    • A ban on Metal Composite Material panels with unmodified polyethylene core, known as MCM PE, on all new buildings of any height
    • A restriction on the combustibility of materials used in and on the external walls of residential buildings between 11-18m

The changes are said to form part of a wider update to tighten building regulations and provide clearer fire safety rules for the design or construction residential developments.

Building and Fire Safety Minister Lord Greenhalgh said:

“We have introduced the biggest improvements to building safety in a generation, under the Building Safety Act.

“These changes will support our tough new regulatory regime – ensuring fire safety measures are incorporated into new high-rise homes and all new residential buildings meet the same safety standards.

“It does not end here and I urge the industry act quickly to update their practises in line with these new rules.”

The National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) Protection and Business Safety Committee Chair, Gavin Tomlinson, said:

“NFCC especially welcomes the introduction of emergency evacuation alert systems in new buildings over 18m. We also support the inclusion of Secure Information Boxes in buildings over 11m, which will give fire and rescue services access to important details about a building and its residents in the event of a fire.

“On the changes to building regulations, we are encouraged that unsafe MCM PE cladding panels are banned on all buildings and that the government has promised stronger safety standards for the use of combustible materials on external walls.”

Further regulatory updates, introduced today, will now see this ban extend to new hotels, hostels and boarding houses of this height.

The ban on MCM PE follows research carried out by the government and evidence heard at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on the serious fire safety risks associated with this material.

New statutory guidance will also be introduced to restrict the combustibility of materials used in and on the external walls of residential buildings, between 11-18m in height. This will mean that lower risk developments between 11-18m meet necessary safety standards – while allowing designers and developers flexibility to use environmentally friendly materials. It builds on a provision, that the government has already introduced, for sprinkler systems to be installed in new blocks of flats 11m and over, in England.

Other updates to the regulations being put forward will:

  • Include elements of solar shading devices within the scope of the ban
  • Amend the list of materials exempt from the ban to include fibre optic cables and insulation materials 300mm from ground level
  • Update the requirement of the ban to refer to the latest version of the British Standard classification for materials used on high-rise residential buildings
  • Temporarily exempt cavity trays
  • Amend the requirements for material change of use in buildings.

The Government adds this these changes add to the ongoing work to ensure homebuilders have clear and comprehensive regulatory framework for the design and development of safe buildings. As part of this, the Government has today published an update on its technical review of guidance on building regulations for fire safety – known as Approved Document B – and the evidence supporting it.

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
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments