Balcony Fires – What’s Happened?

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell on 14th June 2017, the government conducted a complete review of the claddings used on high rise residential buildings.

The result of this review was the introduction of significant changes to the relevant legislation including a combustible cladding ban

Current Regulations & Compliance

Summary of relevant documents:

  1. Approved Document B Building regulation in England covering fire safety matters within and around buildings
  2. BS 9991: 2015 Fire safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings – Code of practice
  3. BS 9999:2017 Fire safety in the design, management and use of all buildings – Code of Practice
  4. BS EN 13501-1:2019 Fire Classification of Construction Products and Building Elements. Classification using data from reaction to fire tests.


Less Common Guidance:

  1. BS8579 the guide to the design of balconies and terraces. New standard released August 2020. It defines the difference between open and enclosed balconies.
  2. Policy D12 in the London Plan on reducing risk to life, minimising the risk of fire spread and providing a suitable means to evacuate and escape.
  3. NFCC policies and guidance 
  4. British Standard EN 1365-5: 2004 Fire resistance test for loadbearing elements- balconies and walkways.
  5. BS EN 1363-1 Fire resistance tests, including revision draft.
  6. C Holland, M Shipp and D Crowder, Fire safety issues with balconies, BRE Global Ltd 2016.
  7. Centre for window and cladding technology, Standard for systemised building envelopes, Part 6, Fire performance, Sept 2008.
  8. Fire stopping: 4th edition, published by Association for Specialist Fire Protection.

Regulations differ for Scotland & Northern Ireland, ensure compliance with regional requirements. For example, Scottish Mandatory Handbook.

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Key Takeaways from the Hackitt Report: An Industry Leaders’ Perspective

Key Takeaways from the Hackitt Report: An Industry Leaders’ Perspective

What are Sapphire doing to minimise risk of balcony fires?

In order to better understand the protective effect of soffits on the balcony in the event of a fire, we have commissioned some balcony fire safety testing at the Exova test centre in Warrington. For one of these tests, a full-size balcony Cassette® was constructed to fit the furnace size. This was fitted with class C decking (the least non-combustible product currently used by Sapphire), and a variety of soffit panels were fitted so the relative effect of these could be monitored.

You can learn more about what we’re doing by attending a 15min Balcony Safety Presentation.

Sapphire advocate the use of aluminium soffits on all balconies. However, where soffits have been omitted or are perforated (for architectural or cost reasons) there is clear evidence to suggest the use of class A decking should be considered to reduce the risk of rapid balcony fire development.

Further details can be found in our recently published balcony safety whitepaper. Request your copy below


Working with Resibuild we deliver a number of sustainability events.

Download Fire Whitepapers:

Balcony Fire Safety Whitepaper

Recommendations regarding fire safety on balconies in high rise residential blocks.

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Laminate Glass a Safety Risk or Benefit?

This Whitepaper looks at laminate glass used in balconies and balustrades and how it is affected by the Combustible Cladding Ban.

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Book a Fire Safety CPD:

Balconies: From Fires, to The Ban & Beyond

We bring our research to you in a comprehendible CPD that takes you on a journey through the numerous balcony...

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Balcony Fires: Learning from the past.

This Fire CPD purely looks at current case studies of a few recent fires that have happened this year, explores...

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