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22Oct92 UK: ENGINEERS FIGHT NEW FIRE SAFETY RULES.

Structural engineers are stepping up pressure on the Government and insurance companies to change new fire safety rules.They claim a new code of practice introduced by the Loss Prevention Council and requirements in the new Building Regulations have been introduced without proper consultation or independent assessment.The LPC code was slammed as 'narrow and inflexible' by Simon Ham, director of Fire Safety Consultants, at a conference on Monday.And a report from the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) last week called into question Building Regulations' increasing reliance on 'active' fire measures.The code is tougher than the Building Regulations - calling for a minimum of two hours' fire resistance for many structural elements - but engineers argue that the rules are arbitrary.Gerry Newman of the Steel Construction Institute said: 'No structural engineering analysis has been done by the LPC of fire damaged buildings in order to ascertain if they need those fire resistance periods. All professional fire safety engineers think the periods in the code are too long and arbitrary'.He said the LPC had brought out the code 'without proper consultation'.The LPC, which is funded by insurance companies, published the code in response to the new approved document to the Building Regulations.Technical manager Jim Denny said: 'Pre-1992 approved document B provided a 'safety net' if insurers' requirements were not met, but post-1992 lower standards mean increased importance for an insurers' code of practice.'SCOSS is also unhappy about parts of the new Building Regulations. Its technical officer Eric Dore called for a phased abandonment of passive systems until there is more experience of active systems.