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New build homes : fire safety explained, from a home buyers perspective.

Fire Safety in Residential Buildings: NHBC Standards and Building Regulation.

This blog looks at the regulations and requirements for safe escape routes in residential buildings, focusing on NHBC (National House-Building Council) standards and Building Regulations. 

It’s just the basics , there is a lot more detail if anyone wants to.comment or add detail please use the comments facility

It covers key elements like protective routes, fire doors, and window functionalities.

There are of course many other fire safety related issues such as fire barriers and access arrangements that builders have to consider, however we will be focusing on those that the home buyer would need to understand or may have questions about.

1. Means of Escape and Protective Routes

NHBC standards and Building Regulations emphasize providing occupants with clear and unobstructed escape routes in case of fire. These routes should lead to a place of safety, typically outdoors.

There are 3 options

A. Protected route

B. Protected zone and

C. Emergency egress windows

A: Protective Routes: These are fire-resistant pathways within the building that minimize exposure to smoke and flames. They can include corridors, stairwells, and lobbies constructed with fire-resistant materials.

B: Fire Doors: These doors play a crucial role in compartmentalization, creating fire breaks to slow the spread of flames and smoke. They must be self-closing and certified to withstand fire for a specific duration.

C: Window Functionality:Non-locking windows: In some cases, regulations may require windows in habitable rooms (bedrooms, living rooms) to be non-locking or have a keyless release mechanism. This allows easier escape in an emergency.

Opening size: Minimum opening sizes for windows are often specified to ensure a clear escape path or facilitate fire service rescue.

2. Fire Safety in 3-Storey Houses

The specific requirements for a 3-storey house depend on various factors like occupancy type (single-family dwelling, multi-unit dwelling) and local regulations. Here’s a general overview:

Escape Routes: A minimum of two escape routes from each floor are often mandatory, with at least one leading directly outside.

Stairs: Stairs in escape routes must be constructed with fire-resistant materials and designed for safe descent under duress.

Fire Doors: Fire doors should be installed at strategic locations, such as between living areas and garages, and at compartment walls within the house.

3. Fire Doors: Regulations and Installation

Fire doors are essential components of fire safety. Here are some key points regarding their regulations and installation:

Regulations: Fire doors must comply with relevant British Standards (BS) like BS EN 1634-1 for fire resistance performance.

Installation: Fire doors should be installed by qualified professionals to ensure correct fit, functionality, and compliance with fire safety regulations. This includes checking for proper intumescent seals.

Intumescent Seals: These are heat-activated seals that expand in a fire, closing any gaps around the fire door and preventing smoke and flames from spreading.

Importance of Professional Guidance:

Building regulations and NHBC standards can be complex. Consulting with a qualified architect, building surveyor, or fire safety professional during the design and construction phases is highly recommended. 

They can ensure your 3-storey house adheres to all fire safety requirements and provides safe escape routes for occupants.

Note: This blog provides a general overview. Specific regulations may vary depending on your location. Always consult with the relevant authorities and building professionals for the latest requirements in your area.

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