When do I need a Fire Safety Certificate on my building?

written by Tracey Sludds
Building On Fire With Text Saying Fire Safety Design Is Paramount To A Safe Building

Under the Building Control Act two main sets of regulations have been issued, the Building Regulations which sets standards for building works and the Building Control Regulations which puts procedures in place to control building works.

Your Local Authority Fire Department will processes the Fire Safety Certificates applications for buildings and works in your area, on receipt of a valid Fire Safety Certificate Application prepared by your Architect/Fire Consultant on your behalf.

A Fire Safety Certificate is a certificate issued by the Building Control Authority which states that the works or building to which the application relates will, if constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications submitted, comply with the requirements of Part B of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations.

The following developments (other than those listed as exempt below) require a Fire Safety Certificate;

  1. works in connection with the design and construction of a new building,
  2. works in connection with the material alteration of—(i) a day centre, (ii) a building containing a flat, (iii) a hotel, hostel or guest building, or (iv) an institutional building, or (v) a place of assembly, or (vi) a shopping centre, but excluding works to such buildings, consisting solely of minor works,
  3. works in connection with the material alteration of a shop, office or industrial building where— (i) additional floor area is being provided within the existing building, or (ii) the building is being subdivided into a number of units for separate occupancy,
  4. works in connection with the extension of a building by more than 25 square metres,
  5. a building as regards which a material change of use takes place,

to which the requirements of Part B of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations

The following buildings are exempted from the requirement to obtain a Fire Safety Certificate:

  1. a single storey building which— (i) is used exclusively for the storage of materials or products, for the accommodation of plant or machinery or in connection with the housing, care or management of livestock, (ii) is used solely for the purpose of agriculture, and (iii) is a building in which the only persons habitually employed are engaged solely in the care, supervision, regulation, maintenance, storage or removal of the materials, products, plant, machinery or livestock in the building, and which is either attached to another such building or detached from any other building,
  2. a building used as a dwelling other then a flat,
  3. a single storey building used as a domestic garage,
  4. a single storey building (other than one described in (c)) ancillary to a dwelling (such as a summer house, poultry-house, aviary, conservatory, coal shed, garden tool shed or bicycle shed) which is used exclusively for recreational or storage purposes or the keeping of plants, birds or animal for domestic purpose's and is not used for the purposes of any trade or business or for human habitation,

or to works in connection with such a building provided that, after the works are carried out, the building is or continues to be a building referred to in paragraphs (1) to (4).

Under the current Building Control Regulations there are 3 separate types of Fire Safety Certificates when dealing with fire safety of building design: 

  1. Fire Safety Certificate
  2. Revised Fire Safety Certificate
  3. Regularisation Fire Safety Certificate

Fire Safety Certificate

Before you begin any construction works or make a material change of use, you should apply for a Fire Safety Certificate. You may submit a 7-Day notice form along with the application in which case you may begin works after 7 days. The Local authority fee will increase for this fast tracked application process of 7 Days. A 7-Day notice form must be accompanied by a statutory declaration form declaring that any works carried out before the cert is granted will comply with fire safety regulations. 

There is a risk associated with the 7 Day notice option. If, during the 8 week application process, the fire authority requires any changes to the initial design or if conditions attached to the fire safety certificate stipulates changes to the initial design, any construction works already carried out that are not in compliance may need to be removed or altered in order to comply.

Revised Fire Safety Certificate

An application for a Revised Fire Safety Certificate should be made before works commence in respect of works where:

  1. A fire safety certificate is granted before grant of planning permission, and the planning permission requires changes to the initial design.   
  2. Significant revision is made to the design or works of a building for which a fire safety certificate has already been granted.

You may submit a 7-Day notice form along with the application in which case you may begin works after 7 days. 


Regularisation Fire Safety Certificate

A Regularisation Fire Safety Certificate is required where a building has been commenced or completed without a fire safety certificate being granted where one is required. The local authority fee is increased for this process and the authority has 8 weeks to make a decision. A regularisation fire safety certificate application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration form declaring that the documents submitted are true and accurate and properly represent the actual building.