Practical fire safety guidance for existing non-residential premises

Guidance note on fire safety responsibilities for business owners of non-residential premises.

Chapter 10: Fire And Rescue Service Facilities

358. To comply with building regulations or other legislation, premises may have been provided with facilities, equipment and devices for use by, or protection of, fire-fighters. Fire safety law includes a duty requiring maintenance of such features. Some general information is included below. Current standards for some can be obtained from the Building Regulation Technical Handbook.

359. The Fire and Rescue Service should be notified of any changes affecting existing facilities for fire-fighters.

Fire and Rescue Service Access

360. Buildings may have been provided with facilities such as access roads and hard standing areas that allow Fire and Rescue Service vehicles to approach and park within a reasonable distance. Vehicle access to the building exterior may enable high reach appliances to be used, and enable pumping appliances to supply water and equipment for fire-fighting and rescue. Table 9 shows access dimensions.

Table 9 Access route for Fire and Rescue Service vehicles

High reach appliance Pumping appliance
Minimum width of road between kerbs 3.7 m 3.7 m
Minimum width of gateways etc 3.5 m 3.5 m
Minimum clearance height 4 m 3.7 m
Minimum turning circle between kerbs 26 m 16.8 m
Minimum turning circle between walls 29 m 19.2 m
Minimum axle loading 14 tonnes 14 tonnes

Water Supply For Fire and Rescue Service Use

361. Fire-fighting operations often depend on a sufficient supply of water. External water hydrants provide a water supply for use by the Fire and Rescue Service. Where no adequate piped water supply is available, an alternative supply may have been provided such as a fixed water tank, or access to a spring, river, canal, loch or pond, with access for a Fire and Rescue Service pumping appliance.

Smoke Ventilation

362. Smoke ventilators or outlets may be provided for assisting Fire and Rescue Service personnel with smoke control and clearance. These may be located in basement storeys and stairs, and may be openable windows.

Fire-Fighting Shafts and Lifts

363. Fire-fighting shafts are provided in tall buildings to provide fire-fighters with a protected route from the point of building entry to the floor where the fire has occurred and to enable fire-fighting operations to commence. The stairway within the shaft is likely also to be used for normal movement through the building. Entry points from a stairway in a fire-fighting shaft to a floor will be via a protected lobby. Most fire-fighting shafts incorporate a fire-fighting lift which has a back-up electrical supply and car control override.

Dry and Wet Rising Fire Mains

364. The rising fire main is a facility mostly in medium and high rise buildings, for the Fire and Rescue Service. It consists of a pipe running up or through the building, an inlet box where fire-fighters can connect their hose; and outlet valves for the connection of a hose. A dry riser is empty and is charged with water by the Fire and Rescue Service; a wet riser is kept full of water from the mains water supply. Wet rising mains have a facility to allow the Fire and Rescue Service to supplement the water supply.

365. Issues to consider include:

  • the approach to allow a Fire and Rescue Service vehicle close to the inlet box;
  • prohibition of car parking in front of the inlet box;
  • the inlet box door secured in a way that fire-fighters can readily open the door;
  • the outlet valves secured in the closed position, usually with a leather strap and padlock, to prevent tampering; and
  • the outlet valves being easily openable.

Information Aarrangements For Fire-Fighters

366. In some buildings, there may be layout plans available for fire-fighters or information on the presence of particular hazards.

367. For certain premises where 25 tonnes or more of dangerous substances are used or stored, there is a requirement to give written notification to the Fire and Rescue Service and the Health and Safety Executive and to provide signs to give warning to fire-fighters. This is to comply with the Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites) Regulations 1990. Even where dangerous substances are below the threshold, notifying the Fire and Rescue Service is good practice.


Email: Fire and Rescue Unit:

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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