Actions and works subject to a building permit, but exempted from prior advice of the Fire Service

The Brussels Code on Urban Planning ("Code bruxellois de l'aménagement du territoire"/"Brussels Wetboek van Ruimtelijke Ordening", hereinafter the "Code") requires that for each building project having an impact on fire security, a request for advice be introduced with the fire and urgent medical help service ("Service Incendie et d'Aide médicale urgente"/"Dienst voor Brandbestrijding en Dringende Medische Hulp", hereinafter the "Service"). Certain acts and works, however, are exempted from the requirement of such advice.

We briefly discuss the exemptions to this requirement, as provided for by the decree of the Government of the Brussels Capital Region of 18 October 2018 listing the actions and works subject to permit which are exempted from the requirement of preliminary advice, an inspection visit and an attestation of conformity from the Service. This decree has been amended by a decree of 9 July 2019, which adapted and extended the list of exemptions.

A decree of the Government of the Brussels Capital Region of 4 April 2019 establishes the form which has to be attached to applications for certain permits and which contains the information necessary in order for the Service to deliver its advice. In addition, following the adoption of this decree, a permit applicant no longer has to request the advice of the Service prior to the introduction of the permit application; instead, the authority competent to deliver the permit will request the advice, on the basis of an information form completed by the permit applicant.

Regulatory framework in the Code

The Code requires that various bodies be consulted in the context of a permit application, in connection with which they assess the application based on their respective field of activity. Thus, the Service assesses the application with regard to fire safety. The Service must deliver its advice within 60 days.

In connection with the permit applications for which the Service must be asked for its advice, the Code stipulates that, upon completion of the works subject to a building permit and before any occupation of the building, the Service must carry out an inspection visit, which may – or may not – result in the granting of an attestation of conformity.

However, the Code allows the Government to list a series of actions and works exempted from this obligation to request advice because of their minor significance ("minime importance"/"geringe omvang") or because the specific advice of certain bodies is not relevant given the nature of the actions and works in question.

Developments related to the actions and works exempted from the advice of the Service

The decree of the Government of the Brussels Capital Region of 10 June 2004 (later repealed by the decree of 9 July 2019) originally listed the cases exempted from the advice of the Service. Through the decree of 18 October 2018, the Brussels Capital Region decided to repeal a list of exemptions initially adopted. The decree of 9 July 2019 provided for new cases of exemptions.

The justification for these exemptions is that many actions and works which are subject to a building permit do not have an impact on fire security. The purpose of the decree is to update the list of exemptions, based on the experience of the Service.

The current modification thus extends the exemptions from the obligation to request the advice of the Service. Three new exemptions have been added:

  • creation, installation and extension of a balcony or a terrace;
  • cutting down, moving or carrying out of any action that could endanger the survival of a tree with a high stem; and
  • modification of the silhouette of a tree registered in the Region's heritage inventory.

In addition to these new exemptions, other works are exempted from the requirement for the advice of the Service, including:

  • actions and works that cannot benefit from the permit obligation exemption solely because they are not in accordance with a specific land use plan ("plan particulier d'affectation du sol"/"bijzondere bestemmingsplan"), an urban regulation or a subdivision permit ("permis de lotir"/"verkavelingsvergunning") or because the actions and works are carried out on a property subject to a protection measure;
  • construction, transformation and modification of buildings used solely as a single-unit dwelling,
  • development of green spaces; or
  • construction, transformation or modification of outbuildings on one level or of verandas built next to a single-unit dwelling.

Entry into force

The decree of 18 October 2018 (as amended by the decree of 9 July 2019) and the decree of 4 April 2019 entered into force on 1 September 2019.