Fire Safety in blocks of flats Â– Inspection, testing and maintenance continued Â– Part 10
The last few Fire Safety in blocks of flats blogs have been looking at the importance of inspection, testing and maintenance on various elements of your fire safety measures. Today, we will continue with that by discussing fire mains, firefighting lifts and other fire prevention and protection measures.
Where a fire main (dry/wet riser) is fitted in the block of flats, it should be inspected every six months for signs of damage and tested annually. A six-monthly inspection would comprise a visual check that the outlets are not damaged and that the padlocks and valves are in place and could be included as part of a fire safety inspection or fire risk assessment review. The annual testing should be performed by a specialist contractor.
For more information on the testing of fire mains, you can refer to BS 9990:2015, which gives recommendations for non-automatic fire-fighting systems in buildings. It covers good practice in matters affecting the design, installation, testing and maintenance of such systems including wet and dry fire-fighting mains.
In blocks where a fire-fighting lift has been installed, a comprehensive system of tests and maintenance are necessary. On a weekly basis, the lift’s override switches should be tested. Monthly inspections should take place, in addition to an annual testing and maintenance schedule.
BS 9999 gives comprehensive information on many aspects of fire safety; more information on the testing and maintenance of fire-fighting lifts can be found under the ‘Access and Facilities for Firefighting’ section of the document.
Where a fire safety measure has a mechanical or electrical element to its function, its inclusion in a maintenance and testing programme is fairly obvious. However, there are other fire safety measures which would be classed as ‘passive protection’ which also need to be checked.
Fire-resisting doors constructed of timber must be inspected as part of a good practice maintenance programme. They should be checked bi-annually for obvious signs of damage to self-closing devices, the doors themselves or the frames in which they sit, poorly fitting doors, or any changes to the door locks or door furniture which may compromise the ability of the door to resist fire. It is also potentially possible that the whole door may have been replaced with one which is not fire-resisting.
Where possible, flat entrance doors should be included in this programme, although access to the flats will be required in order to accomplish the testing. In cases where the flats are occupied on a leasehold basis, access in order to test and maintain the door should be a condition of the lease. Where this is not the case, a request can be made to the leaseholder.
Inspections of doors for possible defects can be carried out as part of a fire safety inspection, however, it is possible to train non-technical staff to recognise and report these defects. Where defects are found, it is important that they are addressed immediately.
More information on the testing and maintenance of fire-resisting doors can be found in BS 8214.
Next week’s blog will begin by looking at the testing and maintenance of Fire Separating Construction. 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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