The article by Steve Cooper (AJ 5.10.00) is a valuable description of the state of authoritative control over fire safety standards in buildings. Some of the controls at the design stage, the construction phase and the 'building-in-use' phase of the life of the building are included in the article.
However, the description is specific to England and Wales. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the regulations are similar, but the authoritative supporting documents are different in Scotland. Here, mandatory compliance with the technical standards is required and there is no 'friendly technical guidance' available.
Fortunately, the process of relaxation is valuable as it gives flexibility to the design process that, through the application of fire safety engineering, achieves appropriate and adequate levels of fire safety.
A further aspect of building fire safety noted is the fact of Fire Safety (Workplace) Regulations 1997, 1999. It is considered that these regulations have primacy over all related national legislation. It should be mentioned also that the preparation of a fire risk assessment for a building-in-use is the sole responsibility of the owner/user of the building.
Another feature of these regulations that is not mentioned in the article is that, while the local fire authority has the responsibility to enforce the regulations, the authority can appoint non-uniformed personnel as enforcers. A challenge for the architect?
Dr Eric Marchant, Edinburgh Fire Consultants