Fire safety.

This covers the traditional bedsit type house shares with all occupiers on their own tenancy agreements.

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Storeys include:

  • Attics;
  • Basements;
  • Premises over a shop.

  • Important note: Large, complex 2 storey HMOs with long travel distances from any bedroom to the final exit, unusual or complex layouts might be considered to fall into the category as above for 3 storey HMOs. You should contact ther local council for confirmation.


    Structural fire safety:

    A 30 mins fire protected route (walls, doors, ceilings) to be provided, normally the main staircase. Only one fire door required between the risk rooms and the escape route.

    Fire doors to be self closing and fitted with intumescent strips and smoke seals, with escape type locks.

    60 mins fire resistance between basements and ground floor but 30 minutes plus detection will be accepted after inspection if basement ceiling is in good condition with no voids/gaps.

    Note that the presence of a basement or cellar may make the house 3 storey – seek advice from your local council.

    60 minutes fire resistance between shops/other uses and HMO.

    Variations from 60 minute standard to be agreed with Fire Authority (usually by use of additional detection).

    Doors to letting rooms and final exit doors must be openable without the use of a key (night latches, mortice escape locks with thumb turn inside or other escape type lock.)

    Electric meters within the staircase to be enclosed in a fire resisting cupboard/housing.

    Kitchen/lounge fire doors which open directly onto the escape stairway (and are likely to be propped open by occupiers) may be required to be fitted with an automatic retaining device connected to the fire alarm system or dorgards.

    The staircase which is the protected route to be kept free from combustible materials and obstructions.

    Fire alarm system:

    A mains operated system of smoke and heat detectors conforming to British Standard 5839 Part 6 2004 Grade D and category LD2 (detectors in escape routes and adjoining risk rooms).

    Optical smoke detectors in bedsits and escape routes and heat detectors in kitchens. Multisensors may be appropriate. Remote hush/test/locate switch to be included on system.

    Other options are available – such as panel controlled systems, note as for 3 storey HMOS, prior approval of the fire alarm system is required.

    Emergency lighting:

    Not normally required, unless there is significant lack of borrowed lighting within staircase enclosure and layout/changes of level present exit difficulties in the event of a fire.

    Fire extinguishing equipment:

    Minimum of one fire blanket in every kitchen.

    Maintenance and testing:

    Fire alarm should be tested weekly by landlord or tenant. Remote test switch allows for easy testing. An annual check by a competent person to comply with BS5839 Part 6 2004 should include cleaning in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. Each detector head should be replaced every 10 years (guaranteed life of the standby battery). If the building has been unoccupied or the mains power has been disconnected, the system should be tested to ensure the operation of the power supply and standby supply.

    Permitted variation from the 2 storey standard:

    Properties occupied by students or professional sharers (i.e work colleagues) and occupied on a single contract for whole house have a less stringent standard. This variation to relax the fire safety measures is based on the evidence that groups of friends/colleagues sharing a house together have only a slightly increased risk of fire or harm from fire as a family. The group (who must all be named on a single tenancy agreement together) have full occupation of the whole house. Empty rooms are the responsibility of the group to re-let as opposed to the landlord.

    In order to qualify the property must also fit the following description:

  • No unusual layouts
  • No cooking equipment in rooms
  • 6 occupiers maximum
  • Max 18m travel distance to final exit
  • No vulnerable groups permitted

  • Structural fire safety:

    Well fitting internal flush doors or panel that close and latch properly and are fitted with smoke seals.

    60 mins fire resistance between shops/other uses and HMO. Variations by agreement with Fire Authority.

    Doors to letting rooms and final exit doors must be openable without the use of a key (recommended mortice escape locks)

    Electric meters within the staircase to be enclosed in a fire resisting cupboard/housing.

    Escape route to be kept free from combustible materials and obstructions.

    Fire alarm system:

    A mains operated system of smoke and heat detectors conforming to British Standard 5839 Part 6 2004 Grade D and category LD3 (detectors in escape routes and the kitchen). Optical smoke detectors in escape routes and heat detectors in kitchens. Multisensors may be appropriate. Remote hush/test/locate switch to be included on system.

    Emergency lighting:

    Not normally required, unless there is significant lack of borrowed lighting within staircase enclosure and layout/changes of level present exit difficulties in the event of a fire.

    Fire extinguishing equipment:

    Minimum of one fire blanket in every kitchen.

    Maintenance and testing:

    Fire alarm should be tested weekly by landlord or tenant. Remote test switch allows for easy testing. An annual check by a competent person to comply with BS5839 Part 6 2004 should include cleaning in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. Each detector head should be replaced every 10 years (guaranteed life of the standby battery).

    If the building has been unoccupied or the mains power has been disconnected, the system should be tested to ensure the operation of the power supply and standby supply.

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