RSUA’s draft response to DoF’s consultation on Fire safety changes


The Department of Finance (DoF) has launched a consultation seeking views on the proposed amendments to Part E (Fire safety) of the Building Regulations and supporting guidance in Technical Booklet E.

The proposed changes to Part E regulations and guidance aim to reduce the consequences of fire through saving lives and preventing injuries.

The deadline to this consultation is 25th September 2023. RSUA has formulated a draft response with special thanks to Joan McCoy and Jim Armstrong.

Key points from RSUA’s draft response include:

  • RSUA agrees with the principle of providing ‘adequate fire safety information’ under new Regulation 37A but believes that the proposal as drafted has the possibility of causing confusion. The use of language and the cross referencing to the fire services order risks conflating ‘relevant premises’ and ‘relevant buildings’.  Whilst RSUA does not object to the provision of information in this case, RSUA believes that the definition of ‘one or more flats’ could be problematic in other areas and therefore potentially confusing. See A2 for an outline of our concern regarding ‘one or more flats’.
  • The English regulations are predominately for buildings above 18m in height and the new NI regulations are predominately for buildings above 11m in height. RSUA would also like to request an explanation of why the 11m rule for building height proposed in the NI regulations was chosen as more suitable for NI than the English regulation’s findings.
  • RSUA agrees with the proposed guidance regarding sprinklers given in Section 8 of the consultation version of TBE. However, RSUA requests clarification regarding whether there was any internal discussion with relevant departments and bodies on the ability or capacity to supply the amount of water needed to deliver these regulations. RSUA believes if the Regulations want sprinklers the system must have the capacity and infrastructure to cope with the increased demand on the network. Applications must be dealt with expeditiously with a stipulated time from application to decision. Otherwise, there will be a massive backlog of schemes in the system and nothing will happen on the ground.
  • RSUA agrees with the principle of providing smoke detection and guidance for smoke detection in the Technical booklets. However, RSUA acknowledges it is extremely difficult to follow the text without diagrams explaining the various layouts and requirements. RSUA notes that BS5588-1 and 9991 both provide diagrams that greatly enhance the understanding of the reader into what is required. These are also easier to understand as the context for the escape route design is also included, which is not the case for the proposed amendments to TBE. RSUA requests clarification on if there is a reason that BS5588-1 is still being referred to and not the more recent BS9991:2015?

To view RSUA’s full draft response, please click here.

If you have any queries or any additional comments to add to RSUA’s draft response, please contact Lucy Mulgrew via