The construction industry in the UK is subject to a set of Regulations and Approved Documents which govern the construction of new buildings and the safety of the occupants. These include Regulation 7 (Building Regulations 2010) and Approved Document B. These documents, amongst other items, specify fire classifications for materials used in facades.
Regulation 7 deals specifically with materials and workmanship in the construction of new buildings and is legally binding. It requires that building work be carried out using appropriate materials that meet the statutory requirements and that they are installed correctly to ensure compliance.
Specifically, Regulation 7 states that,
….building work shall be carried out so that materials which become part of an external wall, or specified attachment, of a relevant building, are of European Classification A2-s1, d0 or Class A1.
Some products are excluded from this requirement, including membranes, gaskets, seals etc; but this means exclusion from the requirement for class A2-s1, d0 or class A1 – it does NOT mean exclusion from a fire classification altogether. This is confirmed in Approved Document B, which says:
10.21 Particular attention is drawn to the following points; a) Membranes used as part of the external wall construction above ground level should achieve a minimum of class B-s3, d0.
Approved Document B provides clarity on how to achieve compliance with the regulations. As mentioned above, the document specifies that membranes used in facades should achieve a minimum fire performance of Class B-s3, d0.
A “Relevant Building” is defined as one with a storey at least 18 metres above ground level and which—
- contains one or more dwellings,
- contains an institution (an organisation founded for a religious, educational, professional, or social purpose),
- contains a room for residential purposes/sleeping accommodation eg. sheltered housing, student accommodation, care homes, hospitals, hotels etc.
Approved Document B contains the performance requirements set by the secretary of state. Only Local Authority can provide the dispensation to accept anything which doesn’t comply with Approved Document B. It is crucial to recognize that Approved Document B offers clarity on the requirements of Regulation 7, and by following the Document, designers, contractors, and installers can be certain that the materials used in façades are safe, and compliant with the Building Regulations.