Change to BS 9991:2015

BS 9991, crafted by the British Standards Institute (BSI), made its debut in 2011 as a guideline for fire safety in residential buildings. It was developed to complement BS9999, a code of practice for fire safety in building design, management, and use. Following its initial release, BS 9991:2011 was followed by BS 9991:2015 and is now undergoing an update after an extensive consultation period. A draft version, BS 9991:2021, was released in 2021.

The Purpose of BS 9991:2015

 BS 9991:2015 primarily focuses on advising and recommending strategies for designing, managing, and utilising smoke ventilation systems. These measures aim to ensure that residential buildings comply with acceptable fire safety standards for both occupants and firefighters. It’s considered a credible approach to implementing advice in Approved Document B.

Where is BS 9991:2015 Applicable?

The guidelines of BS 9991 pertain to fire safety management throughout the lifespan of buildings. It applies to the design of new constructions and significant renovations or alterations to existing structures. These regulations cover various residential settings, including single-family homes, independent apartments, maisonettes, housing with kitchens and separate bedrooms (like student accommodation), and specialized housing. Fire detection, alarm systems, and fixed firefighting systems fall under the scope of BS 9991:2015.

Latest Revisions in BS 9991:2015

 Anticipated changes in BS 9991:2015 include several significant modifications outlined in the draft (BS 9991:2021). Some notable expected alterations for future projects are:

  • Requirement for evacuation elevators in each residence served by a residential lift.
  • Introduction of a designated lift lobby preceding staircases and residential corridors.
  • Inclusion of specific distance requirements for hob clear space to accommodate open-plan constructions and escape pathways. This will likely be between 1.8 and 0.9 metres from the hob, with an additional 0.9 metres for a wheelchair access escape path.
  • New insights on split stairs in tall, single-stair buildings.
  • Mandating premises information boxes in buildings exceeding 11 meters and signage directing individuals to escape routes, derived from ADB.
  • Installation of an evacuation alarm system in buildings over 18 meters, following BS 8629.
  • Reference to the latest BS9251 standard for residential sprinklers, including sprinkler installation in hallways and sterile spaces.

These are the other potential amendments to BS 9991:2015 that may necessitate further discussion and review:

  • Requirement for residential buildings over 18 meters to have either two stairs with mechanical ventilation or a single stair protected by a pressurisation system for the stair, lift, lift lobby, and separate smoke ventilation for the corridor.

Initial expectations for the updated BS 9991’s release in late 2022 have passed without fruition. Presently, a new release date remains uncertain, but there’s hope for an early 2024 launch. Continuous updates regarding BS 9991:2015 and its status will be provided within the industry in the interim.