Fire Safety in blocks of flats - Automatic Fire detection and alarm systems Â– Part 18
This week’s blog will look at those areas which more rarely affect the common areas of blocks of flats – automatic fire detection systems and alarms. It is, in fact, rare to find an alarm system in the common area of a block of flats, but it is still the case in some circumstances.
Additionally, we will look at fire detection within the flats themselves. Alarms should be provided in all flats, in accordance with BS5839-6 (available from the BSI online shop). An LD3 standard alarm is the minimum for installation in the circulation spaces of a flat. There may be one or more, dependent upon the space concerned.
A more complicated flat design, such as a flat with two levels or with more than one hallway or circulation space will require more than one fire detector (typically smoke alarm) to be installed. In those cases where compensatory measures are required in order to support an alternative escape route design, for instance, it may be that smoke and heat alarms will be required in individual rooms of the flat too.
Indeed, the use of additional detection and alarms to compensate for deficiencies in other areas of fire protection carries on to the communal areas of a block. It is sometimes the case that there is insufficient fire compartmentation, or the escape route within a block does not adhere to benchmark standards and where that is the case, a fire detection system may be used to assist in the mitigation by providing an early warning to residents in case of fire.
A fire alarm system in the communal area of a block of flats should adhere to BS 5839-1:2013, copies of which can be purchased from the BSI online shop. The principles which apply to the interior of individual flats – as laid out in BS5839-6, or any other domestic fire alarm system, are not relevant to the communal areas of a block.
If a domestic fire alarm system has been installed in a block of flats, it may be necessary to remove and replace it with a recommended system. If sufficient protection is provided via compartmentation and protected escape route provision, it may be that the domestic alarm system is not actually required to achieve life safety objectives. Specialist fire engineering advice should be sought where there is doubt about the fire safety provision during a fire risk assessment or as and when required.
It is important to remember that a fire risk assessment is a ‘living’ document which should be changed as and when circumstances require it, in order to reflect the current situation and instruct any changes necessary.
Next week’s blog will look at Fire Extinguisher use within blocks of flats. . 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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