Description of the national fire regulation framework for buildings
In Italy Fire fighters are a national Corp that has two tasks: extinguishing interventions and fire prevention.
Italian law DPR 1/08/2011 no. 151 contains a list of 80 activities which are subject to Fire fighters’ control for fire prevention.
All of these activities are considered as having a higher fire risk, and always have a threshold: for example, commercial activities over 400 sqm, car parks over 300 sqm, hotels over 25 beds, civil dwelling buildings higher than 24 m.
If an activity is under the threshold, it’s not subject to Fire fighters’ control and it only has to apply the safety at work rules, which include also a part about fire safety, with not many requirements.
If an activity is subject to Fire fighters’ control, various technical Codes, of various juridical levels, contain the technical requirements, which can vary depending on the precise activity. The total number of codes is unknown, certainly hundreds, but the main Codes are about 20/30 (see list below). Still many of the 80 activities have no precise Code, so their conformity has to be assessed using the general fire safety criteria.The fire safety codes are normally national laws (DPR means Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica) or codes written by the Ministero dell’Interno (D.M. means Decreto Ministeriale). Besides, there are many answers, letters of interpretation, etc. written by the Ministero dell’Interno or by Regional Direction of Fire Fighters.
As an alternative to the various Codes containing the technical requirements, there is the so-called Fire Safety Code (D.M. 3.8.2015), which is a unique Code applicable to all activities, similar to BS 9999:2008. So far, the fire engineer is free to choose the application of the “old” codes or the application of the Fire Safety Code. In the future, apparently the intention of the State is to abolish all “old” codes and to keep as mandatory only the “Fire safety code”. When this will happen, it’s not clear.
Fire Safety Engineering is allowed in Italy starting from 2007 but it’s still not widely used. If a fire engineer wants to use the FSE, there is a procedure to follow, but for technical requirements the FSE is alternative to the various Codes and prevails on them.
Scheme for obtaining building permission
The manager of one (or more) of activities subject to Fire fighters’ control must follow a precise procedure:
1) Submitting to Fire fighters’ Command of the province (Italy is divided in 87 provinces) a project which demonstrated the compliance to the applicable Code (or, in case of use of FSE, the compliance to the fire simulation).
2) At the end of the works, submitting to Fire fighters a number of documents (certifications, declarations, etc.), the SCIA – Segnalazione Certificata di Inizio Attività (Certified segnalation of activity beginning, signed by the activity manager), with a certification (“Asseverazione”) signed by a technician who declares that the activity has been built according to the fire safety project and to the applicable fire safety codes.The SCIA submitted to Fire fighters is the document which allows an activity to operate.
3) Later, Fire fighters can make inspections and, if positive, they release the Fire certificate (CPI – Certificato di prevenzione incendi) or, sometimes, an equivalent certificate named Verbale di visita tecnica.
4) If the inspection is negative, various solutions are possible, including the closure of activity and/or the opening of a criminal charge.
5) Every 5 years, the manager has to proceed with the renewal of fire safety conformity.6) If relevant changes are needed in the activity (dimensions, combustible materials, change in the activity, etc), a new project must be submitted.
Requirements for performance declaration for building components
When a SCIA has to be submitted, D.M. 7.8.2012 regulates which documents have to be attached, depending on the activity. Normally a SCIA requires documents regarding:
• fire resistance of bearing and separating structures (pillars, beams, walls, doors, shutters, bags, collars, etc.);
• fire reaction for materials (in which European classification is widely used, but also Italian classification is still in use for the materials not covered by the European classification like for example tents and upholstered furniture);
• fire safety systems (hydrants, smoke detectors, sprinkler, smoke management, emergency lights, etc.);
• other relevant technical systems (eg. HVAC, electric system, lighting protection, etc.);• maximum fire load;
• other possible certifications, depending on the activity.
Title of the overall building regulations where fire safety is regulated
DPR 1 agosto 2011 n° 151
Guidelines regarding prescriptive fire safety design
Circolare M.I. DCPREV 5043 del 15 aprile 2013
Guidelines regarding performance based fire safety design