The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published an advice note aimed at residents and building owners of residential buildings with multiple dwellings (i.e. blocks of flats), on the risks arising from balconies on residential buildings in regard to external fire spread. The principles contained within the document could also apply to other building types.
Outlined within the advice note are recommendations for the construction of external walls and balconies, particularly in relation to the use of materials and their combustibility - regardless of the height of the building. The view of the expert panel - which is not, however, currently part of any legislative framework or guidance for existing buildings - is that the clearest way to prevent the risk of external fire spread is to remove and replace any combustible material with one that is non-combustible (classified as A1 or A2-s1, d0).
Where necessary, building owners should inform residents about any risks arising from the presence of combustible materials on balconies and clearly state that using balconies for smoking, barbecues or the storage of flammable property can increase that risk. Fire and rescue authorities advise that barbecues should not be used on balconies.
The guidance states that where there is any doubt over the materials used, building owners should seek professional guidance to understand the building composition and the potential risks it poses. Any risks arising from the construction of balconies should form part of the building’s fire risk assessment, and information should be passed on to residents.
In addition, the guidance recommends that any residents with concerns about the fire safety of the premises should contact their managing agent or landlord in the first instance and building owners are expected to respond promptly to these requests.
To read the complete advice note, please click here.
The S2 Partnership has a dedicated team of fire safety experts, providing fire risk assessments, training, guidance, fire engineering and fire safety management systems to a range of organisations to meet legal obligations. The S2 Partnership works with clients to develop robust fire safety solutions, providing just the right support to each individual business to protect lives, buildings and businesses.
Fire specialists at the S2 Partnership undertake risk assessments and audits on behalf of property owners and managers to ensure that tenants are operating to good standards of fire safety and are not posing a fire risk to the rest of the building or its occupants.
The S2 Partnership also carries out fire evacuation drills and training for fire wardens and marshals to ensure clients are prepared for emergencies.
For further advice or guidance on fire regulation issues, please contact our specialist fire safety team.