Photo of Jamie Davis Senior Fire Engineer at BB7 Huntingdon

How will BS9999 revision impact fire safety professionals, architects and designers?

Following a review period that started with an initial meeting on 29th September 2014 and after resolution of an extensive list of comments; the revision of BS9999 Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings – Code of practice has now been published (January 2017).

In broad terms the entire document has been updated to include revised and new references, recommendations for new or improved technology (such as watermist suppression, voice alarms and fire curtains), corrections, clarifications to reduce ambiguities and improved diagrams to better illustrate concepts.

Key headline items that are likely to have the greater impact for fire safety professionals, architects, designers and enforcers are:

  • Scope for the document excludes residential buildings covered by the related BS9991 code of practice.

  • All fire precautions, as far as was practicable, now relate to risk profiles rather than building types such as assembly. To achieve this the tables for fire resistance have been rewritten.

  • Descriptions for assessing the category of fire growth rate have been updated and examples made more relevant to typical building design.

  • The management sections were rewritten (with significant input from Ben Bradford). In the 2008 publication there were three levels of management, with a comment that the lowest level (3) might not meet the minimum requirements to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This has now been reduced to two levels of management with the concept of Level 2 as the minimum requirement and Level 1 an enhanced provision. Third party accreditation (in line with PAS 7) is also recognised as an industry benchmark for demonstrating excellence.

  • Buildings with an atrium will now only need to adopt the special measures in the annexes where the atrium compromises compartmentation, which brings this in to line with the Approved Document B.

  • The annexes on atrium provisions have also been rewritten with new flowcharts to improve the logic of the decision making along with the exemplars.

  • Annex E for shopping centres has also been changed to align with risk profiles and to remove duplication or conflict with the main document. This included specification of fire compartment sizes and modification in the way mall population and exit width are calculated.

  • Final exit door widths also had a rethink, with calculation to allow the doors to remain the equal in width to the stair (modification to stair capacity) plus inclusion of options for stairs serving floors above and below the exit level.

This, I can testify as a member (along with Ben) of the review panel for FSH/14/-/7, is a simplification of all the hard work that went into producing this extensive update.

There’s two 99’s – but still no flake!

Whilst it might not have any flakes BS9999 has been a significant guidance document for fire safety design of buildings since its first publication and this update and reinvigoration will keep it at the forefront for all building designers and fire safety professionals.

James Lane
Head of fire Engineering and FSH/14/-/7 review panel member
BEng Hon’s CEng FIFireE

BS9999 assessment

BB7 can help you appreciate the effects of BS9999 revisions and the impact on your designs.

For help with this, or any other aspect of fire design, fire risk management or security engineering contact James Lane at: