Following the London Grenfell tower fire, the French Government ordered an initial report into fire safety in housing buildings. Based on this report’s initial conclusions, the Government has recognised the need to reinforce fire safety regulations in French buildings, in particular those undergoing renovations, and has announced that regulatory changes will be engaged rapidly.
Also, a further report has been mandated to identify buildings with thermal insulation materials similar to those on Grenfell tower. The 40-page initial report for the French Government, by the national construction technical body (CSTB), underlined the need to reinforce the fire safety requirements for buildings. The report summarises the current organisation of construction fire safety requirements in France, covering both tall (>50m) and other buildings, new and existing buildings, fire prevention, detection and evacuation, renovation, policing of implementation, legal responsibilities of owners and occupants. The report conclusions note: an absence of fire safety regulations concerning renovation of non-tall buildings; the need to review fire safety requirements for buildings of families 3 and 4 (collective housing of >4 stories, <50m height); issues with complexity and overlapping of regulatory and voluntary requirements. The regulatory review should in particular address smouldering fires, smoke emissions, durability of fire performance over time.
The French report makes nine recommendations:
- Overall revision of French fire safety regulation and standards (Arrêté 31/1/1986) for housing, including tightening control regimes
- Clarify regulations for buildings with mixed uses (housing and other occupations)
- Develop fire safety regulations for building renovation
- Reinforce fire safety requirements for building façades
- Facilitate the authorisation of innovative fire safety solutions not covered by existing regulation
- Abandon the French building material fire classification system and use only the EU system (Construction Products Regulation)
- Oblige fire safety audits of all buildings of family 4 (28-50m high)
- Reinforce education of the public on building fire safety
- Develop technical knowledge necessary to accompany tighter fire safety regulation, including fire modelling, smouldering fires, safety of use of wood in high buildings, durability of fire safety performance, risk of smoke explosion in modern air-sealed buildings, smoke toxicity.
“Le Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment a remis son rapport au ministre Jacques Mézard”, French Government press release 17th July 2017 http://www.cohesion-territoires.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/17.07.2017_-_cp_suite_incendie_tour_grenfell.pdf and “Evaluation de la réglementation sécurité incendie en habitation”, CSTB (French scientific and technical centre for construction) report, 29th June 2017, refs. AI-550-170001, 40 pages http://www.cstb.fr/assets/documents/rapport-mission-securite-incendie-fr-300617.pdf