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New regulations in home security are a welcome development, but specifiers need to be aware of how the regulations will work with current fire safety standards, cautions Jon Cole, National Operations Manager of Police initiative Secured by Design.

Security Standards were included in the Building Regulations published in October 2015 for the first time. The security measures apply to doors, windows and roof-lights in new homes and where there is a change in use to an existing building to create new dwellings. This new part of the Building Regulations is known as Approved Document Q (ADQ) or Part Q (Security: Dwellings).

 The introduction of the new legislation has been welcomed by Police initiative Secured by Design (SBD), which has been working for the last twenty six years to support the principles of designing out crime through physical security and processes.

All in the interpretation

While it is an important driver for security standards, Part Q has highlighted the importance of sourcing the correct products for specific applications where there may be a conflict with other parts of the Building Regulations.

Of particular significance is the potential overlap between the new security standards and fire safety regulations, as outlined in the pre-existing Approved Document B. Last updated in 2013, Approved Document B (ADB) or Part B (Fire Safety) lays down minimum requirements for the fire performance of materials, products and structures used. Incorporating new measures to ensure the security of vulnerable entry-points, while maintaining compliance with existing Fire Safety regulations, presents additional complexities.

Additionally, with the introduction of Part Q the onus now falls on developers and specifiers to collaborate in meeting both requirements. Building Control Officers also have a responsibility to ensure specified products are fit-for-purpose in respect of both fire and security compliance.

Taking the wider view

Both Part Q and Part B require that products and materials used are tested to ensure they meet accepted British Standards. While, technically, compliance may exist where the required testing has been carried out for individual elements, assessing these results in isolation can be misleading, if not dangerous.

The scope of certification for each design requirement (fire or security) will differ in many cases. It would not be unusual, for example, for there to be differences in glazing specification or lock or hardware arrangements. This may include the installation of a internal integral door-closer (which requires material to be removed from the door leaf), which performs an important task in a fire door, but may well have a dramatic effect on the structural integrity of a door leaf when subjected to a security test. There are numerous other examples, but the important message has to be: If a fire doorset is being installed in a new building and now needs to be secure, in accordance with Part Q, then it must be subjected to the security test in the same configuration and specification as it was for the fire test.

An example of getting it right: door glazing

Available options for glazing include fire-rated glass, security-rated glass and fire-rated security glass. Viewed in isolation, test results in each case may suggest all obligations under Part Q and Part B respectively have been adequately discharged, when the reality is that the requirement is for fire-rated security glass. In this case, incorrect specification could result in either the fire safety or the security of the door being compromised.

The need for joined-up thinking is even more critical when considering the situations in which both regulations apply. For example when protecting vulnerable residents in communal housing from attack (e.g. care homes) or in high-risk spots, such as doors leading from basement car parks into communal areas.

Taking a holistic approach is essential, not only to ensure you stay on the right side of the law, but to avoid what could easily be a tragedy in the making.

Expert advice

SBD works closely with professional bodies to align and interpret legislative requirements and offers support to designers and specifiers in the form of published guides. The latest guide for home builders, Guide for Homes 2016, prepared in association with the London Fire Brigade, and now formally approved by the Chief Fire Officers Association, is expected to be published early in 2016.

Further advice and guidance on Part Q (Security: Dwellings) is available from SBD at www.securedbydesign.com/approved-document-q

Established in 1989, Secured by Design (SBD) is the title for a group of national police projects focusing on the design and security for new & refurbished homes, commercial premises and car parks as well as the acknowledgement of quality security products and crime prevention projects.

It supports the principles of ‘designing out crime’ through physical security and processes.

Secured by Design works with the industry and test houses to create high level security standards, responding to trends in crime, and has given input on a number of key standards .The principles of the scheme have been proven to reduce the risk of crime and the fear of crime.