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Means of Escape – Fire Safety in Blocks of Flats – Pt 2 - Basement, Ground and first floor flats

Posted: 22/08/2014 11:33

There is specific provision made in the current guidance for flats which with floors no more than 4.5m above ground level, a premise which would apply to basement, ground floor and most first floor flats. This blog continues to look at means of escape, flat design, risk assessment and fire safety in this context.

Single-storey flats which fall into this category should be designed with the entrance hall as the centre point, that is to say, all habitable rooms should lead directly into the flat’s entrance hall where the main exit door is located. Habitable rooms do not include kitchens, but do include all other rooms within each flat. An alternative to this is to provide an suitable alternative exit in any rooms which do not lead directly into the main hall of the flat through an escape window or door.

Last week’s blog gave information on the specifications for escape windows, which can be found on this website

When considering flats which have two levels the provision is almost the same, with all habitable rooms leading to the entrance hall or an alternative exit on one level, and on the second floor, all habitable rooms leading to a protected internal staircase, which in turn leads directly to an exit, or an alternative exit provided from each habitable room, such as an escape window or alternative exit door.

In the upper floor of a two-storey flat, it is feasible to have one alternative exit serving two habitable rooms, where both rooms have a door leading to the stairway, and the rooms have an interconnecting door so that occupants do not have to pass through the stairway or upstairs lobby in order to access the alternative exit.

In two-storey flats, the idea of alternative exits for each room is a reasonably new design feature that is not commonplace in already constructed blocks. It is more common for occupants to have to access an unprotected stairway and main hall in order to exit the flat using the main door. In situations where fire alarms are operational on each level in the flat, it is considered that the early warning will be sufficient for an occupant to safely leave the premises via the staircase and hall in most cases.

However, as with all fire safe design, the potential occupancy of the flats should be considered at the time of design and if it is likely that the occupants might be vulnerable, have mobility issues, suffer from partial or full deafness, or that the flats are intended as accommodation for those who have retired, the living room and kitchen doors should additionally be fire resistant.

Next week’s blog will look at flats which are located 4.5m or more above ground level (second floor and above) and special considerations which should be made for a fire safe design.

In the meantime, if you have any queries about this blog or would like 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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