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Fire Certificates - what and why?

Under the Building Control Act 1990 a statutory duty to design and construct buildings in accordance with the building regulations were set out. The Act established Building Control Authorities in each Local Authority to monitor compliance with the Building Regulations. It also established the requirement of fire safety certificates to be issued by the Building Control Authority for all new building works.  Two set of regulations have been issued under the Building Control Act:

  • Building Regulations 1997-2019 that sets design and construction standards for new building works (including dwellings) or extensions to an existing building.
  • Building Control Regulations 1997-2018 that put procedures in place to control building works.

A fire safety certificate issued by the Local Building Control Authority states that a building or part of a building to which the proposed works relate are compliant with the requirements of Part B of the Building Regulations. As such if there is more than one building on a site, a fire safety certificate will be required for each individual building.

Building without a fire safety certificate, you will leave yourself open to prosecution under building control legislation and if you decide at some later date to sell your premises the buyer's solicitor will, in all likelihood, look for a copy of the fire safety certificate for the building. Public house /licensed premises without a fire safety certificate will have difficulties obtaining or renewing a license.

The following developments require a fire safety certificate:

  • Works in connection with the design and construction of a new building 
  • Works in connection with the material alteration of: 
  1. A day centre
  2. A building containing a flat
  3. A hotel, hostel or guest building 
  4. An institutional building 
  5. A place of assembly 
  6. A shopping centre
  • Works in connection with the material alteration of a shop, office or industrial building where additional floor area is being provided within the existing building or where the building is being sub divided into a number of units for separate occupancy. 
  • Works in connection with the extension of a building by more than 25 square metres 
  • A building as regards which a material change of use takes place.

A Fire Safety Consultant, Architect or Engineer who is familiar with the Building Regulations generally prepares the application to submit to the Building Control Authority for a fire safety certificate. The application will include a written report & drawings to detail compliance of the proposed development with the requirements of Part B of the Building Regulations.

On receipt of a valid application the Local Authority Fire Department will technically review the submitted documents for compliance with the ‘Fire’ part of the building regulations and issue a fire safety certificate for the building work. If an application is incomplete and therefore not valid, the Building Control Authority may return the application or request the submission of additional or revised documentation to enable the application to be validated.

Some buildings are exempted from the requirement to obtain a Fire Safety Certificate and include:

  • Certain single storey agricultural buildings. 
  • A building used as a dwelling other than a flat. 
  • A single storey domestic garage. 
  • A single storey building ancillary to a dwelling which is used exclusively for recreational or storage purposes or the keeping of plants, birds or animals for domestic purposes and is not used for any trade or business or for human habitation. 
  • Works by a Building Control Authority in its functional area.
  • Works in connection with a Garda station, a courthouse, a barracks and certain government buildings.

Under the current Building Control Regulations there are 3 separate types of fire safety application that can be submitted to the Building Control Authority; Fire Safety Certificate, Revised Fire Safety Certificate & Regularisation Fire Safety Certificate.

McKevitt King Architects have a successful history of applying for fire safety certificates for projects varying from small shops & prefabricated units to large warehouses and schools. We also work alongside a close team of Fire Safety Consultants and Fire Stopping Contractors that help complete projects with the safety and compliance of the building in mind.

by Richard Hatch

Fire Certificates - what and why?

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