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Means of Escape – Fire Safety in Blocks of Flats – Pt 1 – Individual flats

Posted: 07/08/2014 12:22

When looking at means of escape for a block of flats, it can be considered most easily perhaps by breaking it down into two distinct areas. The means of escape to the flat exit door (front door of the individual flat) and then the means of escape from that point to the exit door of the block as a whole.

This short series on means of escape from blocks of flats will begin by looking closely at the means of escape considerations for an individual flat within a block to that flat’s exit door.

Flats can come in varying designs, of course. The size, number of rooms, even the number of floors/levels within the flat can vary significantly from design to design. The one thing that they do all have in common, of course, is a need for safe egress for any occupants in case of fire.

  • Inner rooms within flats are those from which escape is only possible by passing through a second room. They are commonly found in larger flats and open plan layouts or in cases where the flat owner or occupier has made changes to the internal layout by removing walls or doors.
  • An inner room such as a dining room, bedroom or living room should have a compensatory alternative exit, in case of fire. This could take one of the following forms:
  • An exit leading to a common corridor, access lobby, shared balcony, common or external stairway or exit over a flat roof
  • A stairway giving access to one of the above named options
  • Or, in the case of basement, ground floor or first floor flats, a window through which exit is possible for an adult, which is no more than 4.5 metres above the ground.

As any exit in case of fire should be usable by the flat occupant without assistance from any other person, it may be that if an older person or someone with a disability could not use the point of egress independently, that additional consideration should be given to the type of exit provided, or the usage of the building will be restricted.

Approved Document B provides specifications for emergency escape windows. 

Where none of the above named compensatory alternative exits are feasible within a design, it might be that a fire engineered solution could mitigate additional risk of an internal room. Such remedies include automatic fire detection systems and sprinklers. However, each fire engineered proposal would be based upon individual design requirements and is not an out of the box solution.

Next week’s blog will continue discussing Means of Escape for Individual Flats and will look in more detail at the provisions for basement, ground floor and first floor flats in particular. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to know more about the Complete Fire Safety Management online fire risk assessment platform, 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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