Building standards - ministerial view: compartmentation (ref. V2023/4)

Ministerial view of a case relating to compartmentation which was referred to Building Standards Division (ref: V2023/4, section 2 – Fire, functional standard 2.1, non-domestic building).

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Functional Standard 2.1 Compartmentation

Every building 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 compartment of origin until any occupants have had the time to leave that compartment and any fire containment measures have been initiated.


This Standard does not apply to domestic buildings.

Clause 2.1.1 - Maximum compartment areas

A building, or part of a building, with a total storey area more than the limits given in the tables below should be sub-divided by compartment walls and, where appropriate, compartment floors. The minimum fire resistance duration (see annex 2.D) can be obtained from the tables below (see also clause 2.1.4).

In most cases, a single-storey building poses less of a life risk to the occupants or to fire and rescue service personnel than a multi-storey building, therefore a greater compartment size can be constructed.

Storage Building (Class 1) 1,000m2 – taken from Table 2.1

Additional information:

  • areas may be doubled where there is an automatic fire suppression system (see clause 2.1.2)
  • 2.0.4 guides you to Regulation 7 for the method of measurement

0.7 Measurements

Regulation 7

For the purpose of these regulations, measurements shall be made or calculated in accordance with schedule 4.

Clause - 0.7.2 Schedule 4



  • measurement of area shall be taken to the innermost surfaces of enclosing walls or, on any side where there is no enclosing wall, to the outermost edge of the floor on that side
  • a room excludes any built-in fixture extending from the floor to the ceiling


Fife Council

Technical Context

The building warrant application is for installation of cask racking with associated walkways and stairs within a whisky maturation warehouse. The matter where there is doubt on compliance with the mandatory standard relates to Mandatory Standard 2.1, specifically to guidance clause 2.1.1 in respect of appropriate measurement of the area.

The existing warehouse consists of two rooms each with a compartment area of 958.7m2 .

The local authority are of the view that, “the guidance is clear that the openwork floor and racking should be included within compartment area. The proposals would therefore appear to be over 1000m2 when taking into account floor area plus the openwork floors. Therefore, to comply with the guidance a compartment wall could be introduced so no area is greater than 1000m2 or suppression installed which allows the area to be doubled in accordance with table 2.1.”

The applicant has stated: “The Maturation racking is fixed to the floor and the area where the casks are stored has a beam and rail system to support the casks and cannot be entered by a person. The following was used to measure the actual area of the floor.


  • the total floor area was taken to the outermost edge of the slab = 958.7msq
  • the racking is a built in fixture anchored to the floor and extend up to the roof and equals 651.8msq leaving a floor area of 306.9msq

Taking this into account and adding the openwork walkways the total work floor area of levels 1 to 3 the total floor area = 825.6msq.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have been consulted as part of this process and have stated: “It is the opinion of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service that we support the view of the applicant in respect of Mandatory Standard 2.1 and 0.7 (measurements) in this specific instance.”

The view of Scottish Ministers

On behalf of Scottish Ministers, the Building Standards Division has considered all the information submitted in this case and their view is set out below:

  • we have taken into consideration the differing views on the appropriate methods of measurement as outlined by the applicant and the local authority verifier
  • it is envisaged that within the whisky maturation warehouse there will be low numbers of staff present and any time spent within the building will be of limited duration. It is also envisioned that time spent on walkways or between the racking system will be for a defined task for a short period of time
  • we have also considered the photographic evidence provided on the method of rack storage that allows the free movement of smoke that would alert any occupants within the compartment of fire origin early in the event of an outbreak of fire
  • the fire load for the compartment is less than that for palletised barrel storage
  • automatic fire detection is present within the warehouse with the means of escape and travel distances suitable for the risk

Having carefully considered all the information submitted in this case, it is the view of Scottish Ministers that the proposals do meet the requirements of Standard 2.1.



Telephone: 0131 244 6511

Scottish Government Building Standards Division
Almondvale Business Park
Denholm House
West Lothian
EH54 6GA

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