Latest fire safety in design standard is revised

2 November 2015

BSI, the business standards company has revised BS 9991 – Fire safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings - Code of practice, adding consideration of sheltered housing and fire safety precautions for vulnerable persons. 

It is increasingly recognized that effective fire safety precautions through design and construction can make a significant contribution towards mitigating risk and protecting the wellbeing of occupants. This code of practice assists in the provision of adequate fire safety measures, fire detection and alarm systems and fixed fire fighting systems, and is intended to help safeguard the lives of building occupants and fire-fighters.

BS 9991 gives recommendations and guidance on the design, management and use of: 

  • Dwellings (single-family dwelling houses, self-contained flats or maisonettes)
  • Residential accommodation blocks (e.g. for students or hospital staff), with individual bedrooms and the provision of kitchen/sanitary facilities constructed within a fire compartment, accommodating not more than six persons
  • Sheltered housing and extra care housing

It is not applicable to hotels, caravans/mobile homes, hospitals, residential care/nursing homes, places of lawful detention, hostels or houses of multiple occupancy. Nor does it cover fire safety design strategies for extreme events such as terrorist actions. 

Anthony Burd Head of Construction at BSI said: “We have a duty to learn from past fire incidents where people have been injured or lost their lives due to inadequately designed or maintained residential  properties. This is the opportunity to design new buildings, or make alterations, to existing buildings - using a comprehensive design guide that can also assist with the on-going fire safety management of  a building.The committee members identified that as residential accommodation  needs to change so must the guidance, so we have added further technical changes to include sheltered accommodation and extra/special care housing, to ensure that this type of accommodation  is not overlooked.”

Benefits of BS 9991:

  • Allows the building to be managed  throughout its entire life cycle
  • Includes guidance for designers to ensure the overall design of a building assists and ultimately enhances the management of fire safety
  • It can be used as a tool for assessing existing buildings, although fundamental change in line with the guidelines might well be limited, or not practicable

BS 9991 is of interest to architects, fire safety engineers, fire and rescue service, fire risk assessors, building control bodies, installers of fire and smoke alarms as well as inspectorate for certification and installation schemes. 

BS 9991 was developed using collaborative input from the fire and safety industry with such organizations as Arup, Association of Fire Consultants, City of London, Department of Communities and Local Government, European Sprinkler Association, Flat Glass Manufacturers Association and Fire Brigades Union, offering guidance.