The changes in the new regulations from the Ministry of Construction regarding fire safety for house

The changes in the new regulations from the Ministry of Construction regarding fire safety for houses and buildings
Posted date: 15/12/2023

"It can be seen from reality that most investors and owners of condominiums, individual houses, collective housing, and especially mixed-use residential and business properties either do not arrange escape routes or the arrangement does not comply with fire safety technical standards. Therefore, in the event of a fire, there are either no escape routes or the existing ones do not meet the functional requirements, leading to tragic incidents such as the recent mini-condominium fire in Hanoi." - Lawyer Le Cao


On October 16, the Ministry of Construction officially issued Circular No. 09/2023/TT-BXD amending the 1:2023 QCVN 06:2022 National technical regulations on fire safety for buildings and constructions. The Circular will take effect from December 1st, 2023.


As analyzed by Lawyer Le Cao, the lead Lawyer of FDVN Law Firm, compared to Circular 06/2022/TT-BXD (Circular 06) - the previous Circular on QCVN 06:2022/BXD, Circular 09/2023 /TT-BXD (Circular 09) brings many new points focusing on 5 aspects as follows:


Firstly, it contains amendments to the scope of regulation of the National Technical Regulations on fire safety for buildings and constructions, specifically, the subject of houses has been included. Unlike Circular 06, which sets out national technical regulations on fire safety for buildings and constructions that applies to "apartment buildings and tenements with up to 150 m of fire height and no more than 3 basements", Circular No. 09 amends this content to "apartment buildings and tenements with the fire height of no more than 150 m and no more than 3 basements".


This clarifies and defines the maximum limit more specifically to make it easier to implement and oblige investors of apartment buildings and tenements to not build more than 150m, while at the same time limits the possibility of many constructions violating fire prevention and fighting provisions.


Aside from that, compared to Circular 06, Circular 09 has separated apartments, tenements from detached houses into two different points in the same clause to ensure specific distinction between types of buildings and constructions.


Accordingly, for detached houses, the regulations are provided in a stricter and broader way, not simply "detached houses also serving production, business purposes where floor area for production, business purposes accounts for more than 30% of floor area" but expanded to "detached houses combined with other uses and detached houses converted to other uses".


The timely separation of detached houses and detached houses combined with other business purposes makes it easier to manage fire prevention and fighting.


On the other hand, Clause 1.1.4 of Circular 09 also shows the most obvious change. Accordingly, for Circular 06, national technical regulations on fire safety for buildings and constructions only "apply when constructing new buildings and constructions listed in Clause 1.1.2 including: apartments, detached houses, tenements of this Circular, public buildings up to 150m high and not more than 3 basement floors...".


However, Circular 09 clearly stipulates that "this regulation applies when constructing new buildings within the scope of this regulation; or only applies to parts and areas directly renovated and repaired.


Thus, while Circular 06 only lists the objects in clause 1.1.2, Circular 09 applies to all objects it regulates.


Secondly, the power to issue amended technical standards for localities should be supplemented. According to Lawyer Le Cao, it can be said that this is one of the highlights of Circular 09 as it has supplemented content demonstrating a stronger decentralization, granting proactive management authority in fire prevention for localities.


At specific point 1.1.11 of Circular 09, it is stipulated that 'Localities are authorized to issue local technical standards to replace, amend, or supplement certain provisions in sections 3, 4, 5, 6, and the appendices of this standard to suit the specific conditions of the locality, based on compliance with legal regulations on standards, technical standards, and fire prevention and fighting laws.'


Third, some contents related to fire technical classification should be amended and supplemented. Previously, investors in houses, construction projects, and businesses/organizations had repeatedly proposed more flexible regulations regarding technical specifications and fire-resistant materials. The strict regulations made it challenging for implementers to find parts and materials that met the fire resistance standards.


As of now, Circular 09 has addressed these concerns by reducing the fire resistance limits and eliminating specific fire resistance limits for certain components. Additionally, it has added conditions for investors to grasp the minimum requirements for components not subject to specified fire resistance limits.


Fourth, some content related to safety regulations for individuals should be amended and supplemented. Specifically, at point 3.2.1 of Circular 06, escape routes are defined as: "Direct exit; through a corridor; through the lobby (or waiting room); through a staircase; through a corridor and lobby (or waiting room); through a corridor and staircase."


Circular 09 has made adjustments by revising the provision regarding "exits considered as emergency exits" to "exits not considered as emergency exits," specifically stating, "exits are not considered emergency exits if these exits have roller doors or revolving doors installed."


This regulation is not exhaustive in listing emergency exits but can be understood as any exit that allows emergency evacuation, excluding those equipped with roller doors or revolving doors. The purpose of this provision is to create a more flexible mechanism for investors in establishing emergency exits. It aims to encourage the creation of more emergency exits beyond the list specified in point 3.2.1 of Circular 06, encompassing not only corridors and staircases but potentially including windows, roofs, ventilation openings, and more.


Besides, it is also clearly stipulated in this Circular that: "Motor vehicles must not be parked, and warehouses classified as A, B, C must not be arranged on the floor with emergency exits leading outside the building unless these areas are separated according to the provisions of this regulation."


Therefore, compared to the regulations in Circular 06, the new provisions are more practical, cost-effective for investors, and ensure greater safety for people living in buildings and constructions.


Fifth, amendments were made to the content in the section regarding fire-fighting water supply. In comparison to Circular 06, Circular 09 has provided clearer regulations on equipping fire-fighting water supply. It stipulates that the investor must implement this when investing in the technical infrastructure of residential areas, urban areas, industrial zones, export-processing zones, high-tech zones, industrial clusters, and areas with similar characteristics.


On the other hand, for buildings falling within the scope of serving fire-fighting water supply sources outside the building (tanks, reservoirs, outdoor fire-fighting water towers, natural and artificial fire-fighting water ponds, and similar water sources), it is not mandatory to equip fire-fighting water supply outside the building.


According to Lawyer Le Cao, the new Circular has clearly indicated to investors the timeframe for equipping fire-fighting water supply without referring to the provisions of TCVN 3890, avoiding difficulties for investors who do not know where to find the regulations.


And last but not least, Circular 09 has also made changes to the regulations on the position and distance for placing tanks, reservoirs, outdoor fire-fighting water towers, natural and artificial fire-fighting water ponds. For both cases "when there is a pump from a fire truck" and "when there is a mobile pump," the distance for placing tanks, reservoirs, outdoor fire-fighting water towers, natural and artificial fire-fighting water ponds is doubled, respectively, to 400m and 300m. Lawyer Le Cao also evaluates that Circular 09 has created favorable conditions for project investors regarding the distance for placing water storage tools suitable for the functional use of residential and construction projects, while still ensuring effective service for fire prevention and fighting in case of a fire.



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