News

Improved fire safety for new flats and social homes

Published: 02 Dec 2020 13:35

Changes to sprinkler regulations.

Guidance has been published for the house building industry ahead of new regulations on sprinklers coming into effect next year.

The changes mean all new-build social homes, flats, and shared multi-occupied residential buildings must be fitted with automatic fire suppression systems from March 2021.

Previously, this was only required in new high rise blocks of flats above 18 metres.

It comes after David Stewart MSP proposed a private members Bill to improve safety in new social housing following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

A number of outreach events are being held with providers of new homes in the run-up to implementation next March.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“I am very grateful to David Stewart MSP for his work on bringing this important issue forward and gaining cross-parliament support.

“The increased requirements for automatic fire suppression systems will further improve fire safety for thousands of new homes each year. These systems have been proven to save lives and it is right that we now make these changes.

“We will continue to work closely with housing providers to make sure there is wide awareness of what is required ahead of the new regulations coming into effect.”

Stuart Stevens, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Chief Officer, said:

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service welcomes the amended regulations and the increased provision of automatic fire suppression systems. This provision is a significant step forward in fire safety and will increase the safety of our communities, residents and firefighters.”

Background

This work was taken forward as part of the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety, immediately formed following the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

On 22 May 2018 David Stewart MSP lodged a final proposal for a Social Housing (Automatic Fire Suppression Systems) (Scotland) Bill.  The Bill received cross party support.

The Scottish Government confirmed on 20 June 2018 that it would initiate legislation, within the current Parliamentary session, to require new-build social housing to be fitted with automatic fire suppression systems before the end of the current Parliamentary session.

At a meeting with David Stewart MSP on 7 February 2019 the Housing Minister confirmed that mandatory requirements for new social housing would be taken forward through building standards.

Publication of these changes to building regulations, to come into effect for all new development where the building warrant is applied for on or after 1 March 2021, completes that commitment.

Between June and September 2018, the Scottish Government consulted on a range of proposals to improve fire safety in new buildings.  The majority of these improvements were introduced into regulations in October 2019

Following the laying of regulations on 9 September 2020, the full detail of these changes are now published within the Building Standards Technical Handbooks.