Building Standards technical handbook 2017: non-domestic buildings

The Building Standards technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and are available in two volumes, Domestic buildings and Non-domestic buildings. This publication is available in html and also in PDF format (in 'supporting documents' ).

This document is part of a collection

2.2 Separation

Mandatory Standard

Standard 2.2

Every building, which is divided into more than one area of different occupation, must be designed and constructed in such a way that in the event of an outbreak of fire within the building, fire and smoke are inhibited from spreading beyond the area of occupation where the fire originated.

2.2.0 Introduction

Buildings or parts of a building in different occupation pose particular problems in terms of fire safety. This is because one occupier usually does not have any control over the activities or working practices of their co-occupiers and in such cases, separating walls and separating floors are recommended.

The intention of separation is to limit fire growth and thereby give adjoining occupiers more time to escape before they are threatened by fire or smoke.

Enclosed shopping centres - due to the special fire precautions within enclosed shopping centres, additional guidance is grouped in the annex 2.C. The intention is to help designers and verifiers find the information they require quickly when designing or vetting such buildings. However it is important to remember that the guidance in the annexes is in addition and supplementary to the guidance to Standards 2.1 to 2.15.

Conversions - in the case of conversions, as specified in regulation 4, the building as converted shall meet the requirements of this standard in so far as is reasonably practicable, and in no case be worse than before the conversion (regulation 12, schedule 6).

Separating walls and separating floors should have at least a medium fire resistance duration (see annex 2.D). However there are some situations where the wall or floor will demand a greater fire resistance. For example, where the separating floor is also an element of structure in a building where the topmost storey is at a height of more than 18m, long fire resistance duration would be necessary in most cases (see clause 2.1.1).

2.2.2 Buildings in different occupation

A separating wall or separating floor should be provided between parts of a building where they are in different occupation.

Multi-occupied building - however it is possible to have no separating walls or separating floors between the different occupiers of a multi-occupied building when the building is under a single management regime. For example, multi-occupied offices with a shared reception and sanitary facilities may be regarded as being in the same occupation. In such cases, the building should have a common fire alarm system/evacuation strategy and the same occupancy profile (see clause 2.9.3). This philosophy is in effect very similar to individual departments within one large organisation. However where each unit is under the control of an individual tenant, employer or self-employed person, separating walls and separating floors should be provided between the areas intended for different occupation.

Where a speculative development is intended to be multi-occupied but the extent of management control is not known, the building should be regarded as being occupied by different persons.

2.2.3 Building with common occupation

A separating wall or separating floor with a medium fire resistance duration should be provided between parts of a building where one part is in single occupation and the other is in communal occupation. However this is not necessary between:

  • part of a building in single occupation and a common external stair, access balcony or access deck

  • a shop and a mall (see annex 2.C).

2.2.4 Combustibility

Exclusions from non-combustibility - every part of a separating wall or separating floor (other than a floor finish such as laminate flooring) should be of products that are non-combustible. However this is not necessary where the building does not have any storey at a height of more than 18m and the separation is between:

To reduce the risk of a fire starting within a combustible separating wall or a fire spreading rapidly on or within the wall construction:

  • insulation material exposed in a cavity should be of low risk or non-combustible materials (see annex 2.E), and

  • the internal wall lining should be constructed from material which is low risk or non-combustible, and

  • the wall should contain no pipes, wires or other services.

2.2.5 Supporting structure

Where an element of structure (see clause 2.3.0) provides support to a non-combustible separating wall or separating floor, the supporting element of structure should also be non-combustible.

Where an element of structure provides support to a separating wall or separating floor which attracts a higher period of fire resistance, the supporting element of structure should have at least the same period of fire resistance.

2.2.6 Openings and service penetrations

Guidance on the fire protection of openings and service penetrations is provided in clause 2.1.14. However self-closing fire doors should not be installed in separating walls other than in the situation described in clause 2.2.3 or where the building is in the same occupation but in different use. A fire shutter should not be installed in a separating wall or separating floor.

2.2.7 Junctions

Where a separating wall or separating floor meets an external wall, another separating wall, a compartment wall or any other wall or screen used to protect routes of escape (see clause 2.0.6), the junction should maintain the fire resistance duration of the separating wall or separating floor. Where a separating wall forms a junction with a roof or a fire resisting ceiling (see clause 2.1.16), the junction should be constructed in accordance with the recommendations in clause 2.1.15.

Back to top