Fire Safety in blocks of flats Â– First-aid firefighting equipment Â– Part 19
It would be unusual to find fire-fighting equipment, such as a fire extinguisher or hose reel as part of the fire safety strategy in the common area of a block of flats. To some people it might seem that any additional protection from fire was a worthwhile addition, or that their inclusion might support fire safety provision when undertaking a fire risk assessment.
The reasons for non-inclusion of fire extinguishing equipment in common areas of blocks of flats relate solely to life preservation and safety.
Such equipment should only be used by suitably trained personnel and it would not be practical or feasible to enforce fire safety training for residents of the block of flats. Indeed, if a flat occupant were to experience a fire in their domicile and leave the flat to go to a common area and fetch an extinguisher or hose reel and then re-enter the flat, that would be more dangerous than simply leaving the flat and making no attempt to re-enter.
When undertaking a fire risk assessment, where fire extinguishing appliances are already in place in the common areas of a block, or are a proposed addition, their placement and use should be considered carefully and it may be that they should be removed. The responsible person (the nominated responsible individual tasked with undertaking fire risk assessments) should obtain appropriate advice from the Fire Service or a fire engineer.
However, there are some areas in which portable fire extinguishers may be appropriate and should be installed to current standards.
Some examples of suitable areas would be ancillary rooms, plant rooms, boiler rooms, offices or other rooms for staff, common rooms and community facilities and in the common areas and staff areas of sheltered housing. Staff working on-site should undergo suitable training in the use of firefighting equipment provided, where the policy is that they will use it.
It would not be appropriate to place extinguishers in common corridors within the block, for the reasons given above.
Whilst there is no requirement for the building owner or landlord to install fire extinguishing equipment in individual flats, a resident may decide to purchase extinguishers and fire blankets for their own use. It would be prudent under those circumstances for the resident to familiarise themselves with the instructions and use of the equipment, and to place them appropriately within the flat (e.g. not right next to, or over, the cooker).
Where fire extinguishers are to be placed within the common rooms or staff areas of a block of flats, they should comply with British Standards. The current reference is BS 5306-8:2012 Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises. Selection and positioning of portable fire extinguishers.
Next week’s blog will begin with a look at fire safety and flat security. In the meantime, if you have any queries about a project or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.
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