Fire safety.

This article outlines the minimum fire safety measures required to be undertaken in HMOs of 3 storeys or over.

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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 30 minutes fire protection and no voids/gaps.

60 mins 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:

Option 1:

A panel controlled fire alarm and detection system designed and installed to British Standard 5839 Part 6 2004 Grade A and category LD2 (detectors in escape routes and adjoining risk rooms), mixed systems may be considered. Optical smoke detectors in bedrooms, lounges etc and heat detectors in kitchens or rooms where there is cooking equipment.

Option 2:

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.

More options including multisensors are available. Councils and Fire Service must be consulted and the system must be approved prior to installation.

Emergency lighting:

This is somewhat dependent on the level of borrowed light and the actual layout but generally emergency lighting is to be installed in escape routes to BS 5266 Pt 1: 1999 Code of Practice for emergency lighting and be of category NM/2.

Fire extinguishing equipment: Maintenance and testing:

Panel controlled fire alarms to be tested weekly by competent person (as defined in the BS5839 2002), the results to be recorded in log book. All incidents, false alarms and faults to be recorded in log book.

A six monthly service and test by a specialist fire safety engineer to be carried out to comply with BS5839 Part 1 2002. Test certificate to be issued by engineer.

Mains operated systems do not require scheduled tests except an annual test by a competent person. Detector heads to be replaced every 10 years.

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