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Fire Safety in blocks of flats – Emergency Lighting and Refuse – Part 17

Posted: 15/01/2015 13:19

Last week’s blog was looking at the requirements for fire safety signage in blocks of flats and this week, we move onto looking at emergency lighting and refuse arrangements.

Emergency Escape Lighting

Emergency escape lighting on the fire escape route is often an essential part of the fire safety provision in blocks of flats. In a small number of instances it may be possible that small blocks, where there is sufficient lighting outside, and appropriate windows in the block, there may be no need for additional emergency lighting, but due consideration should be given to this. Additionally, in the case of reliance upon street lighting, for instance, the street lights are out of the control of the block owner or manager and so cannot be relied upon to be working when required which reduces the resilience factor of such systems.

An additional consideration when assessing the risk of using borrowed lighting such as street lighting is that increasingly, Local Authorities are choosing to turn off street lights for part of the night in order to make savings of cost and energy.

However, when looking at the provision of emergency lighting in existing blocks of flats, it may be that the assessed risk level is low when compared to other improvements, for example, upgrading of fire resistant doors to current standards. High rise blocks are more likely to require emergency escape route lighting as a priority, whereas lower rise blocks may have a lower risk factor.
Each block should be assessed on its own merits and the actions resulting from the risk assessment prioritised in order of importance, urgency and practicality.

Refuse Arrangements

Refuse and rubbish which is not sufficiently controlled can build up in areas of a block of flats and become a fire risk or obstruction hazard. It is important, therefore, that adequate provision is made by the building owner/manager to ensure this does not happen.

Refuse rooms specifically built for the disposal of rubbish, or rubbish chutes are usually included in all but the smallest of blocks of flats. They should be approached from the open air and ideally, separate from the main building. However, in those cases where they are a part of the main block, they should be enclosed in fire-resisting construction of not less than 60 minutes and have permanent ventilation.
Current Building Regulation standards state that a refuse chute should not be situated within a protected lobby or corridor. In older blocks, should a refuse chute open directly into a protected corridor or stairway, it has the potential to cause fire spread in that area. This risk can be somewhat mitigated by the installation of a fire-resisting shutter at the base of the chute to reduce the risk of fire and smoke spread from a fire in the refuse room, below.

The shutter itself should meet standards, this will be dependent on the criticality of the separation, some will require fixed temperature fusible link operation, whereas others may need to be operated via the detection system. In extreme situations, sprinkler systems can be installed to further protect the area. In those protected lobbies or corridors which also contain flat entrance doors, this may be a priority.

Next week’s blog will look at Fire and Smoke Detection and Alarm Systems. 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.

The Complete Fire Safety Management Platform is the only fully comprehensive online fire risk assessment and fire risk management platform. Our aim, at CFSM, is to make the process of becoming fire safe, straightforward and, to use our expertise in fire risk assessment and fire safety management to guide you through each step, resulting in your premises meeting all legal, insurance and ethical fire safety considerations.



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