Understanding balcony fire safety issues

12.10.2016
Research
Apartment with balconies - understanding balcony fire safety issues by LABC

There's been a huge revival in the building of high-rise development, particularly in cities. As part of this vertical lifestyle, many see the balcony or winter garden as an essential, offering precious private outdoor space.

The 'Fire safety issues with balconies' ​report carried out for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) by BRE Global, found that while thermal design is used to improve energy efficiency and prevent heat loss and thermal bridging, it could also be making balconies a greater fire risk.

The report found that techniques used to meet Building Regulations Approved Document L (conservation of fuel and power) may, in some cases, be compromising the fire safety required by Approved Document B. It points out in a number of case studies, that fires starting on balconies through careless disposal of smoking materials or barbeques could spread across neighbouring balconies, up the building’s entire exterior and to adjacent buildings.

Also highlighted in the report is a lack of available fire design guidance relating to balconies within Approved Document B, except where a means of escape is provided.

The report concludes that the building regulations are open to interpretation in the absence of specific ‘spread of flame’ requirements related to balconies. Therefore, property developers, specifiers, designers, managers and risk assessors all need to be mindful of the potential fire risk.

Download a copy of 'Fire safety issues with balconies'

Further reading: Technical guide: Guide to safe guarding systems to balconies and open walkways in residential buildings

Comments

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 1 month ago

The use of BBQ's and smoking on balconies needs to be controlled under the flats lease management / FRRO

(No subject)

Submitted 1 year 1 month ago

Why wait until occupation where you are relying on individual members of the public (we all know leaseholders do exactly what they are told..!), when you can consider these matter at design stage as the article suggests?

Part B

Submitted 2 months 2 weeks ago

Amendments to the
Approved Documents 2018 state
External walls and specified attachments are defined in Regulation 2 and these
definitions include any parts of the external wall as well as balconies, solar panels
and sun shading.

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