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News: APPROVED DOCUMENT B - REVISED

IFSA is pleased to advise that the latest version of the Guidance in Support of Building Regulations in respect of fire safety – Approved Document B, was published early in March. The first change is quite significant; it is the Approved Document B for England! After decades of England being extricably linked with Wales in the Regulatory sense, devolution is now very much in evidence.

The industry became aware during 2012 that Wales had taken a tougher line over the use of domestic sprinklers in housing than we had in England, primarily because their devolved status allowed them to do so, but the publication of the 2013 Approved Document 'B' highlights how the two regions are departing in their principles.

The main objective of the Approved Document for England is, of course, to enable easy adoption of the new European Construction Product Regulations; the CPR, which has to be implemented this Summer (2013). A by-product of this is that the Appendix A to Approved Document 'B' has had to acknowledge the existence and the need to adopt EN testing procedures in order to enable the adoption of the CE mark, when it is able to be granted, as demanded by CPR.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to remove the term 'fire-stopping' in favour of 'service penetration seals' or 'linear gap seals' was lost and so, despite having bespoke European test procedures for these functions, we will continue to propagate the principle of 'bunging-up holes with muck'. As a consequence, B3 continues to reference cementicious and gypsum based materials as being suitable for fire-stopping, despite their obvious inadequacies in many applications. Hopefully, the fire risk assessors, as a result of their auditing role under the Regulatory Reform Order, identify clearly where they consider that Approved Document 'B' listed materials are not able to contain fire to satisfactory 'safe' levels. To do this, the assessor will need to receive ongoing training in respect of fire sealing solutions if they are to have the necessary competence in accordance with the Competency Councils' guidance.

The AD'B' was not the only revision made this month as the Approved Document to Regulation 7, covering Materials and Workmanship was heavily re-worked. CE marking of products is identified as a major way of establishing the fitness of materials for purpose.

All manufacturers, installers and specifiers are urged to read this often neglected document.

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