Fire Safety, Maintenance

Staying ahead of the curve – BS 5839-6-2019

The 2019 revisions to Part 6 of BS 5839 provide professionals, specifically landlords, with a best practice guide regarding the provision of fire safety for their new or materially-altered and existing properties. The update recommends upgrading from an LD3 specification (the previous minimum requirement) to an LD2 specification. The fire safety provision in sheltered housing flats has also been increased from LD2 to LD1, highlighting an area of potentially higher risk.

With regard to building regulations that cover new or materially-altered dwellings, it’s clear that there is a disparity between the regulations in England and Wales, which stipulate an LD3 minimum requirement, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which recommend a minimum requirement of LD2.

When compared with BS 5839-6, which advises a minimum requirement of LD2 in most rented single occupancy situations, it’s clear that the building regulations for England and Wales are not as closely aligned to those of its neighbours, resulting in an element of confusion over what level of protection is required.

bs 5839-6:2019

The current minimum requirement for newly-built or materially-altered domestic dwellings in England and Wales is LD3, which requires the installation of a Grade D mains-powered smoke alarm with battery back-up in the circulation areas of each storey of a building, such as landings and hallways which form part of an escape route. Within the 2019 revisions to BS 5839-6, the recommendation of Grade D has been further defined into Grade D1 (sealed or rechargeable back-up) or Grade D2 (replaceable battery back-up).

For the private and rented sector in particular, a Grade D1 specification for maintenance purposes is seen as the most pragmatic solution, removing the obligation to replace batteries during the life span of the alarms. Protection can be taken one step further through an LD2 specification, which requires installation of a heat alarm in the kitchen in addition to a mains-powered smoke alarm (with battery back-up) in the most habitable or highest fire-risk room, such as a living room. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, along with other European countries, this level of specification is the current requirement under local building regulations.

While the UK government has recently announced that Approved Document B, Building Regulations for England and Wales, will be subject to a full review, housing providers shouldn’t wait for changes to the regulations to reinforce their duty of care. Housing providers can demonstrate best practice through the installation of alarms that meet an LD1 category and successfully futureproof their housing stock from any regulatory changes that may occur at a later date, while appropriately managing the level of risk each individual tenant presents.

An LD1 specification is designed to offer maximum protection through the installation of alarms in all areas of a property where a fire could potentially start. This includes alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes, in addition to smoke alarms in all high fire risk areas, including living rooms, bedrooms and dining areas. This also includes the installation of a heat alarm in a kitchen. To offer the highest levels of protection available, Thermoptek multi-sensing or optical alarms should be installed.

By following a best practice policy that adheres to an LD1 specification through the use of IoT and Smart RF fire safety technologies, housing providers can not only ensure compliance with current and future regulations, but successfully identify the level of risk or indeed an increased risk to their tenants and properties. Remote monitoring delivers many capabilities, allowing professionals within the housing sector to have a comprehensive understanding of which tenants are at a level of high or increased risk and require earlier intervention.

For more information on how we can tailor our range of connected fire and CO safety solutions to suit your housing portfolio, contact our expert team of specification managers today!