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RIBA responds to the Worcester Park fire

10 September 2019

Jane Duncan, Chair of the RIBA Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, said:

“It is very sad to see another terrible fire occur. I am relieved to hear there has been no loss of life, but the loss of all personal possessions is awful for those involved and my thoughts are with them. While we have welcomed the government’s ban on combustible materials for residential buildings over 18m, this four-storey building fire demonstrates that the application of this regulation may need to be extended.

The RIBA has consistently argued for sprinklers to be a requirement in all new and converted residential buildings, and to be retrofitted in existing residential buildings above 18m when they are being refurbished. This fire demonstrates the need for sprinklers in residential buildings, and fire warning systems in individual flats, not just in communal parts. However, while important, sprinklers should not be used to compensate for other crucial fire safety measures.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact Emily.Stallard@riba.org +44 (0) 20 7307 3813

2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates

3. The RIBA Expert Group on Fire Safety set out key recommendations to Government for baseline prescriptive requirements

Sprinklers – a requirement for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems in all new and converted residential buildings (as already required in Wales) and in all existing multiple occupancy residential buildings above 18m from ground level as ‘consequential improvements’ where a building is subject to 'material alterations'. Sprinklers should not be used as means to compensate other key fire safety measures.

Alternative means of escape – in all new multiple occupancy residential buildings, a requirement for at least two stairways, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or the top floor is more than three storeys above the ground level storey (as required for commercial buildings).

Centrally addressable fire alarms – a requirement for centrally addressable fire alarm systems in all new and converted multiple occupancy residential buildings and in all existing multiple occupancy residential buildings above 18m from ground level as ‘consequential improvements’ where a building is subject to 'material alterations'.

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