Fire prevention on Construction Sites. The Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation, tenth edition incorporating amendment 1, January 2023
Following recent consultation between the MPBA’s Technical Committee and the FPA the following summary of how the new 10.1 edition of the Joint Fire Code applies to modular and portable buildings is listed below.
The Joint Fire Code document will be available shortly to download from the FPA website here : www.thefpa.co.uk
This is a summary of how the code applies to temporary buildings, as listed in section 13 of this latest 10.1 edition of the code. This code should also be read in conjunction with all current other legislation, including HSG168
This 10.1 edition of the code was published on the 23rd January 2023 and replaces the 10th edition which was published in August 2022 and has now been withdrawn.
The scope of this 10.1 edition of the code applies to projects where temporary site accommodation buildings are used on projects that have a main contract value of £2.5m or above, it also applies on smaller value contracts where they are part of a larger project. The compliance with the code usually forms part of the insurance contract, in that non-compliance could result in insurance ceasing, or being withdrawn on the project.
A temporary building is defined in the code as; a prefabricated cabin, site hut, cargo container, caravan, portable, modular and sectional buildings brought to site for use as offices, stores, workshops, welfare facilities etc, during the course of the works. These temporary buildings are also exempt from Building Regulations under Regulation 9 Schedule 2, class 5 in England, or Regulation 3 Schedule 1, point 14 in Scotland. Exceptions to this are where they contain sleeping accommodation when full Building Regulations apply, or where they are on site for more than 2 years when Part L/Section 6 will then apply.
In order to comply with the code, section 13.2 recommends temporary buildings should be separated from the building under construction/refurbishment by a fire break, this should ideally be a 10m clear space. Where it is not possible to achieve a minimum 6m break the temporary building must be fire rated in accordance with section 13.3 of the code. This 6m break is increased to 20m when the building under construction is a high-risk building like a large timber framed structure. Where this recommended fire break (6m or 20m) is achieved, no special requirements to the temporary buildings are required, apart from the note relating to vertical stacking in section 13.6 of the code, which is also mirrored in HSG168, confirmation of the requirement is listed at the bottom of this summary report
Existing (already manufactured) fire rated temporary buildings that were intended for use at less than 6m and were compliant with the previous 9th edition of the code can continue to be used as long as they are properly maintained.
Any new temporary buildings that are manufactured before 1st January 2025 can still be manufactured in accordance with the 9th edition of the code, whilst the product development of new 10.1 edition compliant products is undertaken. However, it is strongly recommended that 10.1 edition compliant products are introduced as soon as practically possible.
From 1st January 2025 all new temporary buildings must be manufactured to meet the requirements of the 10.1 Edition of the code only. With all new less than 6m fire rated temporary buildings constructed from materials that do not significantly contribute to the growth of a fire, the propagation of smoke, or produce corrosive toxic fumes and have been fire resistance tested to meet the requirements of BS EN 13501 only.
Previously completed fire tests to BS476 or LPS will no longer be valid, as there is no ability to transfer performance via an assessment. Therefore, existing designs of cabins and modules will need to be retested to BS EN13501 in order to continue to manufacture them after 1st January 2025.
Temporary buildings manufactured to the 10.1 Edition of the code and intended to be used within 6m should be designed and constructed to meet the following.
· Not have a storey height above 18m, this also includes the height of any gantry the temporary building is installed upon.
· When vertically stacked (cabins), or multi-storey (modules) the lower ceiling/floor assembly shall achieve 30 minutes (REI) loadbearing, integrity and insulation when tested to BS EN 13501-2.
· Internal compartment walls and partitions (i.e. around escape stairs etc.) are to achieve 30 minutes (REI) loadbearing, integrity and insulation when tested to BS EN 13501-2.
· External walls and roofs are to achieve 30 minutes (REI) loadbearing, integrity and insulation when tested to BS EN 13501-2.
· Holes and penetrations through this stacked roof/floor assembly i.e. water pipes, soil pipes, cabling, etc. need to be fire stopped to 30 minutes integrity (E)
· All door and windows to be 30 minutes integrity (E) and securely closed when area is not occupied. Fire doors and openable windows must be fitted with automatic self-closing devices.
· Service penetrations including ventilation and extract fans in walls and roofs need to achieve 30 minutes integrity (E)
· All external walls, walkways, stairs to achieve Class B-s3,d2 reaction to fire. Plastisol steel is also deemed acceptable.
· Internal floor, wall and ceilings to be Class C-s3,d2 or better. This includes cavities behind linings, above suspended ceilings and below raised floors. This removes the ability to use 3mm thick painted MDF/ply board (i.e. monoboard) as ceiling/wall linings, vinyl faced plasterboard is deemed acceptable.
· All insulation materials that are part of the external wall or roof should be of limited combustibility or better, Class A2-s1,d0, or Class A1. This removes the ability to use foam insulation in these elements.
· Have a site fitted skirt between the ground (site floor) and lowest floor of the cabins/modules to prevent the accumulation of rubbish.
· All units must be fitted with a fire detection system complying with a recognised category of installation, as set out in BS 5839-1
· In the case of high-risk sites, the fire detection system of the temporary building must be linked to the fire alarm of the building which the work is being undertaken and connected then to an alarm receiving centre.
Additional requirements for ALL temporary buildings, even when located more than 6m. – Applicable immediately.
· When vertically stacked the lower roof and upper floor assembly must achieve 30 minutes (REI) loadbearing, integrity, and insulation. This will require testing of the walls/jack legs as well as the roof/floor assembly, as the walls/jacklegs hold up the roof and require testing to prove the load bearing stability element of the 30 minutes resistance for the roof. However, this requirement can be tested to any national standard i.e. BS476 as well as BS EN 13501. This requirement is also mirrored in HSG168.