Home  5  Books  5  GBEzine  5  News  5  HelpDesk  5  Register  5  GreenBuilding.co.uk
Not signed in (Sign In)

Categories



Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

Buy individually or both books together. Delivery is free!


powered by Surfing Waves




Vanilla 1.0.3 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

Welcome to new Forum Visitors
Join the forum now and benefit from discussions with thousands of other green building fans and discounts on Green Building Press publications: Apply now.




    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2019
     
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/09/fire-flats-barking-east-london-de-pass-gardens

    The reporting on this is fairly fact free so far.

    It looks like the timber cladding/railings on private balconies (rather than access balconies) caught fire. As we don't know the details - what started the fire, what level of protection should the timber have had compared to what it actually had - it's hard to say whether this means it makes sense to reconsider the used of exposed timber in building facades (or at all?).

    I wonder though, is it going to lead to a knee-jerk reaction that all exposed timber is dangerous?
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2019 edited
     
    There's a bit more information at

    https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/twenty-flats-destroyed-in-huge-barking-flat-fire-61835
    https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/revealed-cladding-used-on-barking-fire-building-class-d-rated-thermowood-61848

    I'd certainly think timber should not be used on the outside of tall buildings. Whether a six-storey block of flats is 'tall' is still an open question, I think. I seem to remember that years ago, five stories was the maximum reach of 'normal' fire brigade escape ladders.

    'As Inside Housing reported last year, the government was warned in 2016 that fire spreading across balconies up the external face of the building, as seems to have happened at Barking, could “pose a significant risk to life”.

    'The warning came in a report from the Building Research Establishment, which also suggested that building regulations make “no statutory requirements in respect of external fire spread for the incorporation of balconies to a structure”.'
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2019
     
    Quote in the Times..,

    Peter Mason, chairman of Barking Reach Residents Association had been reassured by Bellway Homes, the developer that built the block, that the external wood cladding had been treated so that it would not catch fire for 30 mins after a blaze started. Video of the fire showed it had spread up the block in only 70 seconds.
  1.  
    Posted By: CWattersthat the external wood cladding had been treated so that it would not catch fire for 30 mins after a blaze started. Video of the fire showed it had spread up the block in only 70 seconds.

    Perhaps the difference between the controlled, defined laboratory test and the out of control, undefined real life.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2019
     
    No doubt the White Star Line was also "reassured by the developers of the Titanic that their ship would not sink"

    etc.

    gg
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019
     
    Posted By: Peter_in_HungaryPerhaps the difference between the controlled, defined laboratory test and the out of control, undefined real life.

    Or possibly it was coated and the coating needs reappplying regularly. I wonder if so, was it done?
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019
     
    Be interesting to know if any requirement for fire protective coating was in the health and safety file handed over with the building, or if the requirement even made into the design risk assessments
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019
     
    Posted By: djh
    I'd certainly think timber should not be used on the outside of tall buildings. Whether a six-storey block of flats is 'tall' is still an open question, I think. I seem to remember that years ago, five stories was the maximum reach of 'normal' fire brigade escape ladders.


    The threshold is 18m I think, which corresponds with about 6 storeys and as I understand it is based on the reach of fire appliances.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019 edited
     
    New quote from The Times today..

    Ian Gorst, from Bellway, told the residents meeting that the wooden cladding was NOT fire retardant. He said: "Below 18 meters, there is no requirement for any cladding on [or?] building material to be non-combustible or fire-treated. The timber is decorative"


    Contrast that with yesterdays quote..


    "Peter Mason, chairman of Barking Reach Residents Association had been reassured by Bellway Homes, the developer that built the block, that the external wood cladding had been treated so that it would not catch fire for 30 mins after a blaze started."
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019 edited
     
    Where I live it's quite common now for timber cladding to be used on low blocks of flats/apartments/sheltered housing..
      Timber Cladding.jpg
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019
     
    Looking at the images it seems clear that gaps in the timber cladding stopped it spreading sideways to other timber clad balconies and flats. Could have been a lot worse.
      Vertical spread.jpg
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019
     
    Stacking wood on top of wood is the best way to build a bonfire to make maximum use of vertical flame spread.

    Regardless of what any specifications say, CDM should have negated the use of wood as the fire spread issue is a pretty basic concept.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 11th 2019 edited
     
    Ian Gorst, from Bellway, told the residents meeting that the wooden cladding was NOT fire retardant. He said: "Below 18 meters, there is no requirement for any cladding on [or?] building material to be non-combustible or fire-treated. The timber is decorative"

    That's not quite correct. There is a spread of flame requirement for any cladding or other surface that is within 1 m of the property boundary, I think.

    I wonder where the boundary is between flats? Does the block as a whole have a boundary with whoever owns the ground next door? Or does each flat have a boundary with its neighbouring flats? If the latter, then I'd imagine it would need to resist surface spread. If the former then perhaps not - it would depend on what is in front of the flats and whose ownership it is in.

    We discussed it previously http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=10177

    edit: In any event, I would have thought the floor of the balconies - which look like they were wood - was part of the compartment boundary between flats?

    edit2: there's also a restriction in Scotland anyway on the total unprotected surface more than 1 m away. That distance might be quite large for an entire block of flats.
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: djh

    edit: In any event, I would have thought the floor of the balconies - which look like they were wood - was part of the compartment boundary between flats?



    I don't see how a balcony could be considered to be within a compartment, because it's by nature not enclosed. So I don't really see that the floors between them could be considered compartment boundaries.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    I don't see any requirement in Part B for a compartment to be enclosed?

    Balconies are definitely part of the flats & building.

    It seems to me that it is self-evident that the construction of the building did not prevent the fire spreading between compartments. Ergo, it didn't meet regs.
    • CommentAuthorCliff Pope
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    <blockquote>
    Perhaps the difference between the controlled, defined laboratory test and the out of control, undefined real life.</blockquote>

    How long one bit of wood resists a fire surely depends on the intensity of the fire in adjacent timber?
    It can't be an absolute number - 30 minutes - next to someone playing with matches, it might resist indefinitely, but next to a raging inferno it could go up in seconds.
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    This is prompted me to have a look through AD B2.

    As far as I can see, it just doesn't really address fire spread via the external surface (for buildings >18m).

    There is a section that talks about external walls in the vicinity of escape routes.

    There is a section that talks about fire spread via cavities in external walls.

    The whole section (B4) on 'external fire spread' is really about spread from one building to another, not between parts of a building.
      Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 11.19.45.jpg
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    As far as compartmentation is concerned, here is what it says about flats.
      Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 11.18.57.jpg
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: djhI don't see any requirement in Part B for a compartment to be enclosed?

    Balconies are definitely part of the flats & building.

    It seems to me that it is self-evident that the construction of the building did not prevent the fire spreading between compartments. Ergo, it didn't meet regs.


    I would agree with you there to some extent.

    The regs ask for reasonable measures to ensure that fire does not spread between compartments.

    However - the guidance in the ADs doesn't seem to me to adequately address the issue of fire spread from one compartment to another via the external surface of the building (whether or not balconies are involved).

    I think that a "reasonable" reading of the guidance could be that essentially this is not a major risk that needs to be dealt with, unless it's in the vicinity of an escape route.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019 edited
     
    edited to note: cross-posted with previous message by lineweight - was in reply to the one before that.

    Yes, you need to look at the section on compartments and also the parts on floors. B3, not B4. B3S4 & B3S5.

    e.g. "5.1
    The spread of fire within a building can be
    restricted by sub-dividing it into compartments
    separated from one another by walls and/or
    floors of fire-resisting construction. The object
    is twofold:
    ...
    "b. to reduce the chance of fires becoming
    large, on the basis that large fires are more
    dangerous, not only to occupants and fire
    and rescue service personnel, but also to
    people in the vicinity of the building."

    PS I presume you meant "(for buildings < 18m)"
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: lineweightHowever - the guidance in the ADs doesn't seem to me to adequately address the issue of fire spread from one compartment to another via the external surface of the building (whether or not balconies are involved).

    I agree with you there. Both here and in Grenfell it seems abundantly clear that the regs & guidance are not fit for purpose. So IMHO, some regulators should definitely be in prison. But bad regulation doesn't excuse dangerous building. I don't remember the law but I'm sure there's a general responsibility not to put people in harm's way.

    I think that a "reasonable" reading of the guidance could be that essentially this is not a major risk that needs to be dealt with, unless it's in the vicinity of an escape route.

    I don't think the guidance works that way. The onus is on the builder to meet the regs. If the guidance says something specific meets the regs then you can rely on that - build it the way the advice says and you are deemed to have met the regs. But there's no reverse implication. If the guidance doesn't mention something, that doesn't excuse you from meeting the regs. There's a whole procedure for clarifying points with the building inspectors if you're in doubt. So something like the spread of flame between compartments which is clearly a risk in this situation, and which is specifically called out in the guidance, must be addressed IMHO.
  2.  
    The government are going to rework AD B in England in response to the Hakitt review of Grenfell, the first round of consultation has already completed https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/technical-review-of-approved-document-b-of-the-building-regulations-a-call-for-evidence

    The new AD would of course apply when existing buildings are maintained/refurbed/change of use etc.

    They already ammended the BRs themselves to explicitly ban combustible materials (not just cladding) on the outside of residential buildings >18m

    http://refurbprojects.com/2018/12/05/%EF%BB%BFamendment-to-building-regulations-will-come-into-force-on-21-december-2018-and-affect-buildings-over-18-high/
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019 edited
     
    Posted By: djh

    I don't think the guidance works that way. The onus is on the builder to meet the regs. If the guidance says something specific meets the regs then you can rely on that - build it the way the advice says and you are deemed to have met the regs. But there's no reverse implication. If the guidance doesn't mention something, that doesn't excuse you from meeting the regs. There's a whole procedure for clarifying points with the building inspectors if you're in doubt. So something like the spread of flame between compartments which is clearly a risk in this situation, and which is specifically called out in the guidance, must be addressed IMHO.


    I can't say I know what the exact legal situation is. And yes it would seem a point that one might want to clarify with building inspectors.

    But I think that it's relevant that the 'requirement' is couched in quite a lot of stuff about doing what's "reasonably necessary" and "to an extent appropriate" and so on. That leaves the question of exactly how much protection is required rather open, and subject to guidance. If it's then followed by guidance that emphasises certain points to focus attention on, then it's these points that I'd look to, in trying to determine whether the builder had followed the intent of the requirement. Otherwise how do you establish where to draw the line between doing enough and not enough?
      Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 13.22.24.jpg
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenThe government are going to rework AD B in England in response to the Hakitt review of Grenfell, the first round of consultation has already completedhttps://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/technical-review-of-approved-document-b-of-the-building-regulations-a-call-for-evidence" rel="nofollow" >https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/technical-review-of-approved-document-b-of-the-building-regulations-a-call-for-evidence


    Thanks, interesting to have a read of that.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: lineweightinteresting to have a read of that.

    I think it will be especially interesting to read the submissions and conclusions to see how well they address this Barking fire. Could/Would it still have happened?
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: lineweightOtherwise how do you establish where to draw the line between doing enough and not enough?

    Well that's what the determinations and appeals processes are for. ISTR there's also the possibility of judicial review in some circumstances.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     

    8.13 In buildings containing flats, the following should be constructed as compartment walls or compartment floors.

    snip

    b. every wall separating a flat from any other part of the building;

    Note: Any other part of the building does not include an external balcony/deck access


    Am I reading that correctly? The wall between a flat and its balcony doesn't have to be a compartment wall?

    That means any fire spreading up a series of balconies can enter other flats easily?
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: CWatters

    8.13 In buildings containing flats, the following should be constructed as compartment walls or compartment floors.

    snip

    b. every wall separating a flat from any other part of the building;

    Note: Any other part of the building does not include an external balcony/deck access


    Am I reading that correctly? The wall between a flat and its balcony doesn't have to be a compartment wall?

    That means any fire spreading up a series of balconies can enter other flats easily?


    That's how I'd read it.

    Unless you consider that wall to be separating the flat from another flat, seeing as it stands in the path of a potential route for fire spread between the two flats.

    Which could also apply to an external wall where there wasn't a balcony.

    Which would imply that any windows and doors in that wall should be fire rated and possibly self-closing.

    But generally the only time you see fire rated glazing is when it's captured under the B4 requirements which are to do with how close it is to another building (rather than another compartment in the same building).
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2019
     
    Posted By: CWattersAm I reading that correctly? The wall between a flat and its balcony doesn't have to be a compartment wall?

    It's certainly an extremely badly-worded piece of legislation. Harsh words should be said to whoever wrote it, at a minimum.

    I think the word 'access' may be important. It may be qualifying the alternatives balcony and deck, such that the only type of balcony or deck that is considered in that sentence is the type that forms part of an access to the flat. I imagine the type of flats where the front door opens onto an open external corridor and to leave the flats you come out onto that corridor and walk along it to a flight of stairs and possibly a broken lift with unpleasant smells inside it.

    So if I'm right, it is saying that the shared access corridor is not 'any other part of a building' and so the wall between a flat and the corridor doesn't have to be a compartment wall. Presumably because the corridor must remain accessible in a fire in order to exit the flat, although in that event if there was a fire in a flat, you wouldn't want it breaking out onto the shared corridor so I'm even more mystified. Maybe such corridors have to be totally incombustible so the problem isn't serious? (I'm too lazy to go back and read Part B again)

    But in any event, if my interpretation is right, it doesn't apply to the balconies in Barking, since they don't seem to be an access route.
  3.  
   
The Ecobuilding Buzz
Site Map    |   Home    |   View Cart    |   Pressroom   |   Business   |   Links   
Logout    

© Green Building Press