The British Standard BS 9999:2017 - Fire Safety in the design, management and use of buildings, code of practice has been fully revised this month (January 2017).
The standard introduces the following principal changes:
- Inclusion of flowchart showing the sequential steps in the design process, to assist users in the application of the standard;
- Revision of management system levels and inclusion of references to PAS 7;
- Inclusion of watermist fire suppression systems;
- Expansion of fire growth rates table to give more information;
- Expansion of guidance on voice alarms;
- Revision of recommendations for smoke and heat control;
- Addition of recommendations for fire curtain barrier assemblies;
- Revision of recommendations for mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning systems;
- Revision of recommendations for shopping complexes;
- Removal of content now covered by BS 9991;
- General update to take into account new and revised standards published since 2008.
The concept behind the development of BS 9999 and BS 7974 is that technical guidance on fire safety is provided at three different levels. This permits a design approach to be adopted that corresponds to the complexity of the building and to the degree of flexibility required.
The three levels are as follows:
- a) General approach. This level is applicable to a majority of building work undertaken within the UK. In this case the fire precautions designed into the building usually follow the guidance contained in the documents published by the relevant government departments to support legislative requirements;
- b) Advanced approach. This is the level for which BS 9999 is provided. The provisions of this document allow a more transparent and flexible approach to fire safety design through use of a structured approach to risk-based design where designers can take account of varying physical and human factors. Many of the measures recommended in BS 9999 are based on fire safety engineering principles, although it is not intended as a guide to fire safety engineering; and
- c) Fire safety engineering. This is the level for which BS 7974 is provided. This level provides an alternative approach to fire safety and can be the only practical way to achieve a satisfactory standard of fire safety in some large and complex buildings, and in buildings containing different uses.
There might be circumstances where it is necessary to use one publication to supplement another, but care needs to be taken when using a “pick-and-mix” approach as it is essential to ensure that an integrated approach is used in any one building. When evaluating an existing building, e.g. when carrying out a fire risk assessment, it is important to review all general fire precautions and not to use parts of the standard in isolation.
Whilst primarily intended for designers, fire engineers and fire safety managers, it is expected that BS 9999 will also be of use to:
- Specifiers, contractors, site supervisors and site safety officers;
- Owners, tenants, occupants, facility managers, safety officers and security staff;
- Regulators and enforcers, including building control bodies, fire authorities, health and safety inspectors, environmental health officers, and environmental agencies.
BS 9999 is designed as a coordinated package covering the four main areas that influence fire safety measures, namely:
- Fire safety management;
- The provisions of means of escape;
- The structural protection of escape facilities and the structural stability of the building in the event of a fire;
- The provision of access and facilities for fire-fighting.
For more information on this latest standard visit the BSI website here.