Safety reporting body CROSS-UK published a report in early August highlighting the fire risks from poorly maintained green walls, as changes to fire safety law mean that the external walls will become part of fire risk assessments.
Green walls have been a popular way of making urban areas more attractive, contribute to biodiversity and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The report from CROSS-UK discusses how building close-down procedures that include isolating automated water systems might result in the drying out of green walls, with the potential for creating a significant fire hazard in external walls.
Commenting on the report, the CROSS-UK expert panel said: “Any system which is important to safety needs to have appropriate measures in place to allow for maintenance, or for breakdown. It is probably not currently on people's radar that irrigation may fall under the same category as sprinklers or fire alarms, so fire strategies and fire risk assessments need to reflect its importance.”
As with all reports from CROSS-UK, there are key learning outcomes to consider. In this case, it advises:
Risk assessors should be aware of this issue and when assessing buildings with this feature, advise Responsible Persons accordingly.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies that the external walls and any attachments should be considered as part of the fire risk assessment.
Section 1 of the Fire Safety Act extends risk assessments to include external walls and requires the Government to make regulations under the Fire Safety Order.
Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures UK (CROSS-UK) helps professionals to make structures safer. It does this by publishing safety information based on the reports it receives and information in the public domain.
Earlier this year, CROSS broadened its remit to include fire safety. Neil Gibbins, lead fire safety consultant at CROSS-UK said: “The expansion of CROSS is a key step that will support fire sector learning, providing a route for professionals to safely share lessons that need to be learned and to provide some oversight of the health of the fire safety system.”
Fire Protection Association August 2021