08 January 2013
Revised design guidance to improve fire safety in buildings and make firefighting safer, has been welcomed by the States of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service.
The guidance, which is used by architects and building designers, came into effect on the 1 January 2013 and has been published in support of the building bye-laws fire safety requirements administered by the Department of the Environment. The Fire and Rescue Service was consulted on the proposed changes and worked closely with the Building Control section to improve fire safety standards.
The two technical guidance documents apply to new buildings or to existing buildings which are being extended or materially altered. The most notable change is an increase in the number of smoke alarms for new flats and houses and the recognition of the benefits of fitting sprinkler systems in buildings.
Increase in smoke alarms
A working smoke alarm is the first line of defence against fire and the chances of escape and survival are considerably higher if it is detected in its early stages. The revised guidance calls for smoke alarms in all circulation spaces, the main living room and all bedrooms in new homes and not just circulation spaces as was previously the case.
Manager of the Technical Fire Safety Department, Jason Masterman, said “Although closed doors may offer some protection against fire and smoke, they may make it difficult to hear a detector alarm installed outside the bedroom. Even more dangerous is the fact that if the fire originates inside the bedroom, the closed door will keep the smoke from reaching and activating the detector if it is installed outside the room.”
Fitting more sprinkers
The revised design guidance also calls for sprinklers to be fitted in all newly constructed residential care homes, basement car parks, buildings (including blocks of flats) which have a floor more than 18m above ground level and sheltered housing built for residents who need help to live independently.
Jason Masterman commented “As an island Fire and Rescue Service we have finite resources and, unlike our UK colleagues, we do not have the benefit of immediate assistance from a neighbouring county during protracted incidents which may pose risks to firefighters. We have analysed scenarios where both the public and firefighters are at higher risk and tried to reduce those risks as far as possible given the current economical climate.
“We are committed to making Jersey a safer place to live, visit and work by protecting our people and environment. We believe that fire sprinklers save lives and improve public and firefighter safety. They also reduce the environmental, social and economic impact of fire in commercial and domestic premises.”