How to comply with the Building Safety Case: Fire and Emergency File
Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, claiming 72 lives, the Government commissioned the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt. In May 2018, Dame Judith’s final report ‘Building a Safer Future’ made 53 recommendations to rectify the failings of the current legislation. Key recommendations for the new building and fire safety regime include:
⦁ Duty-holders will be responsible for the fire and structural safety during design, construction or refurbishment, and Accountable Persons will assume responsibility during occupation and refurbishment.
⦁ Gateway points at design, construction, and completion phases, at which rigorous inspection of regulatory requirements will be conducted.
⦁ A Golden Thread of building information which must be maintained digitally and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle. The government steering group, Golden Thread Initiative [GTI], will test options and processes for the golden thread and set out its recommendations.
⦁ Mandatory reporting to the new Building Safety Regulator [BSR], who will be the building control authority for all Higher Risk Residential Buildings [HRRB’s(1)]. On occupation, the Building Safety Case must be submitted by the accountable person to the BSR. This should be an ongoing digital record for managing fire and structural risks.
The Government published its response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation setting out plans to ensure history is not repeated. Subsequently, the Fire Safety Bill was made law on 29th April 2021, setting out where responsibilities lie for reducing the fire risk in multi-occupied residential buildings. A draft Building Safety Bill was published in July 2020, in which the BSR is a key element. It’s expected to receive Royal Assent by July 2022.
Between gateways 2 and 3, The Fire and Emergency File [FEF] is expected to be a requirement for all higher risk buildings and one of the core information deliverables of the future Building Safety Case. This article answers the key questions we are regularly asked; What is it? Why is it needed? Who is responsible for it?
(1) The Hackitt Review recommends all buildings over 18 meters in height or containing more than 6 storeys are classed as higher risk.
1. What is the Fire and Emergency File?
The Fire and Emergency File builds on the existing regulation 38 requirements and forms part of the Golden Thread of Information [GTI], the backbone to the new information requirements under the Building Safety Regulations. It sets out the critical fire safety information for the building to help the building owner better understand how to effectively manage their building in respect to fire and emergency situations.
The scope, structure and format of the Fire and Emergency File should be agreed between the client, Principal Designer and Principal Contractor. A standard FEF, as a minimum, will contain the following;
⦁ Fire strategy documents
⦁ Active and passive installed systems
⦁ External wall construction details and materials used
⦁ Individual product fire rating details
⦁ Statutory certification and building regs sign-off
⦁ As-built drawings
2. When should it be produced?
The Fire and Emergency File builds on any fire statement produced at Gateway One [pre-planning] but is initiated at Gateway Two [pre-construction] by the client. The file is passed over to the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor during the design and construction phase to update and finalise the critical fire safety information of the building in time for PC. At Gateway Three [pre-occupation] the client is responsible for issuing the completed FEF to the building owner so they can complete a pre-occupation fire risk assessment to enable building occupation to commence.
3. Why is it important?
The FEF is critical to ensure anyone carrying out design, construction or refurbishment work on a building has a complete and accurate record of the fire strategy and systems for the building and its residents. This will provide the future building owner with an ongoing digital record of the key building safety aspects, helping them understand why the fire and other safety precautions have been provided.
4. Who is responsible for producing it?
For new build projects the FEF is initiated by the client and passed over to the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor to be updated and finalised. The file is then issued to the client at PC and transferred to the building owner along with the digital record. Together, this provides the golden thread of information needed to manage the building safely and the required evidence to inform the Building Safety Case. The FEF must be transferred when building ownership changes to ensure the thread of information continues throughout the building lifecycle.
For existing buildings there may be little, or no existing building information in place. The duty holder will therefore need to undertake an information gathering exercise to build the digital record of the building’s safety systems.
5. Key Takeaways
- All buildings over 18 meters or containing more than 6 storeys are classed as Higher Risk Residential Buildings [HRRB’s].
- The FEF is a core information deliverable that duty holders will be required to produce on all HRRB projects.
- The FEF is issued to the future building owner with the ongoing Building Safety Case, as evidence to show the building is ready for occupation.
- The FEF will be used and maintained by the Accountable Person to manage fire safety during the occupation phase.
Get In Touch
If you would like to discuss your project requirements or learn more about the Fire and Emergency File give us a call, drop us an email or request a call back for more information. Tel: +44 020 3668 2000