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Fire Safety
Factsheet - Firestopping
Background
This factsheet aims to briefly highlight the regulatory requirements relating to firestopping in houses and allay any concerns
you may have regarding firestopping in general, particularly following related media articles, reported in May 2019. The
articles concerned a housing development built by Bellway in Scotland, where homes are predominantly built using timber
frame construction methods. In England & Wales Bellway builds homes where the external wall structure is constructed from
concrete blocks. This traditional construction method dœs not require the wall cavity to be subdivided in the same way as
timber frame, due to the fact that concrete is a non-combustible material, compared to timber.
Top
Introduction
Bellway takes the issue of fire protection and fire safety very seriously. Accordingly, all of our projects benefit from specialist
advice, either from an internal resource or from fire experts during the design phase, and we build our homes to comply with
all relevant regulations and standards. In most instances the external walls of a building contain a cavity which diverts rain,
penetrating the outer surface of the wall, away from the inner wall. In the case of a timber frame house, fire barriers are installed
within this cavity as a matter of course. The risk of a fire starting within the wall cavity may be considered low enough to be
discounted, meaning any fire spread within the cavity is likely to have started in the habitable area of a home. All new homes
are fitted with an alarm system which, in the event of a fire occurring within the home, is designed to warn of any flame or
excessive smoke present. This alarm will activate long before any fire can enter and spread through an external wall cavity. A
home that has more than two storeys or has an attached garage, will also incorporate other fire safety measures, such as fire
resisting walls, floors and doors, in accordance with national regulations.
What is firestopping?
Firestopping is the term used to describe the method of forming a barrier around openings and joints, in a wall or floor, which
needs to be constructed to impede fire for a designed period of time. Firestopping products, known as firestops or barriers, are
specifically designed to maintain the fire resistance of a wall or floor, allowing them to impede the spread of flame and smoke.
Specific firestops are also installed where services such as: heating pipes, drain pipes and electrical wiring pass through the fire
resistant wall or floor.
Why do we need to install firestops and cavity barriers?
The cavity in the external wall of a building can act as a chimney and provide an easy route for flame and smoke to spread from
one compartment or property of a building to another. Cavities can allow air to be drawn in and smoke to vent out, enabling
the spread of fire to accelerate through the external wall of the building. It is important to impede this ‘chimney effect’ by
placing barriers within the cavity which will significantly reduce any flame and smoke within the cavity spreading to other
adjacent properties or building compartments. The installation of firestops and cavity barriers means that the building
construction will resist any spread of flames and smoke, for a reasonable amount of time.
Dedicated Fire Safety email helpline
Bellway has set up a dedicated Fire Safety email helpline and any concerned customer should address their concerns to
[email protected]
Disclaimer: This factsheet has been prepared as an information-summary only. It is not intended to provide technical or detailed guidance on fire stopping or other fire safety arrangements in new build
properties. Bellway’s obligations relating to compliance with regulatory and statutory standards for new build properties are contained within the plot sale documentation relating to your house purchase.
If you have any queries in this regard you should speak with your solicitor.
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