At around 04:00 this morning, 10th January, a fire was reported in an underground car park in Choisy-le-Roi, south of Paris. 120 firefighters attended. One firefighter suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital. 200 residents were evacuated and by midday many were still not able to return to their homes. Concerns were expressed about the structure of the building, which had been exposed to temperatures in excess of 600 C for many hours.

Just last month, on 19 December the French government published new regulations on fire safety in public car parks. The regulations require sprinklers in new car parks (except for open-sided above ground car parks) of more than two storeys and in existing car parks (except for open-sided above ground car parks) of more than three storeys. It applies to public car parks.

The new regulation also offers a reduction from 120 minutes to 90 minutes for the structural fire resistance of car parks, or from 120 minutes to 60 minutes where there is no building of more than two storeys above the car park.

Car park compartment sizes may be increased from 3,000 m2 to 6,000 m2 with sprinklers.

If sprinklers are fitted, the smoke ventilation system need only be sized for 600 m3/hour per vehicle instead of 900 m3/hour per vehicle, and the extraction fans need only be rated for 200 C instead of 400 C. With sprinklers, power cables for the smoke extraction system do not need to be fitted in fire-rated ducting.

If the car park is sprinklered, automatic fire detection is not required.