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Firefighter access and buildings policy

Introduction

Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority (the Authority) has a number of responsibilities in relation to securing provisions for firefighting and the ongoing safety of buildings from fire throughout their lifecycle. To meet this requirement, it consults with Local Authorities and Approved Inspectors in relation to planning applications, as part of the County of Kent Act 1981, Building Act 1984 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Order). 

This policy sets out how the Authority discharges its responsibilities. Our principal role is to ensure should we have to go to an emergency that there are suitable and sufficient arrangements made for us to deal with it. This includes provision of firefighting facilities, access requirements for fire engines and other equipment, and consultation on the design and specification for buildings. 

This policy applies to all employees of the Authority and its customers

Legal Consequences

This Policy conforms with the legislation set out in the introduction section.  

Service Policy

Fire safety regulation is founded on the principle that people should be kept safe in case of fire. We regulate to help secure this safety and aim to provide a high quality service to those seeking our advice on planning applications and consultation under The Building Act 1984.

Consultation will include:

  • adequate means of access for the Authority to the building or buildings as extended and;
  • that the building and extension will not render inadequate, existing means of access for the Authority to a neighbouring building
  • structural fire precautions,
  • the provision of means of escape from buildings in case of fire, or;
  • the provision of means for securing that such means of escape can be safely and effectively used at all material times

We will encourage and promote fire safety while minimising the associated costs of providing safety from fire. We believe that by fostering good relationships with our partners in planning departments and by working with them, we can improve public safety, business resilience, and can remove any unnecessary burdens of complying with fire safety law. 

Information

Planning applications

1. The Authority will assess planning applications for both domestic and commercial premises and request adequate provisions be made for water supplies for firefighting purposes through a planning condition. 

2. The Authority will process requests made to us within 21 days. Where the request is complex, or requires the views of a specialist fire engineer, we will perform a site visit, conducted by a suitably qualified fire engineer. 

3. A suitably qualified fire engineer may also visit the site after installation or construction finishes. 

4. We will retain details of the proposed engineering solution (such as sprinklers, smoke extraction solutions and firefighting facilities) and share these with other departments within the Authority involved in planning for, and responding to, 999 calls to those premises. 

5. Observations are also made regarding fire engine access where there may be shortcomings identified during consultation, which can then be enforced by the Local Authority if required. 

Water supplies

6. When reviewing applications, the Authority will make requests and recommendations to the developer under the relevant legislation or guidance (National Guidance on the provision of water for firefighting, 2007) to ensure sufficient water is available for firefighting. Locations, types and specifications of required water supplies such as fire hydrants and Emergency Water Supplies will be recommended by the Authority following a risk assessment. The Authority’s water services department will be consulted during this process and will work with the developer to achieve a sufficient water supply and work with them to find alternative solutions should the provisions not be deemed suitable. 

7. If a planning condition has been imposed by the Planning Authority with regards to water supplies for firefighting purposes, the land owner or building owner should consult with the Authority’s water services team.

Changes under Building Regulations

8. The local authority building control department, or an approved inspector, is the lead authority and is responsible for ensuring at consultation stage, compliance with the building regulations. 

9. If the Order applies to the premises, or will apply following the building work, it is a legal requirement that the building control body must consult with the Authority. The Order applies to nearly all non-domestic premises, but excludes premises occupied as a single private dwelling. 

10. If there are any concerns surrounding fire safety and/or the response we may be able to an emergency incident for a scheme, we encourage consultation at the earliest opportunity and prior to any formal application submission. We will treat all interested parties involved in making applications equally and will not allow undue interference in our decision making from outside parties.

Demolished buildings

11.We endeavour to maintain as up to date a picture of the buildings in Kent and Medway as possible. When we are notified of a building being demolished, we will check our records for any open enforcement or other notices we may have served and ensure they are revoked. 


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