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Fire Safety In The Home

Fire Safety and Building Regulations

Fire safety may not be something that you’ve thought about when planning your new extension or conversion but it’s essential to take into consideration to make sure that your home meets fire safety regulations.

The approved document of Part B (fire safety) of the Building Regulations is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-approved-document-b. We recommend that you refer to it for practical guidance about how to meet the Building Regulation requirements.

The fire safety regulations aim to protect life by requiring the following:

  1. Requirement B1: When there is a fire, ensure both: 
    1. satisfactory means of sounding an alarm 
    2. satisfactory means of escape for people. 
  2. Requirement B2: Inhibit the spread of fire over internal linings of buildings.
  3. Requirement B3: The building must be built such that all of the following are achieved in the event of a fire: 
    1. the premature collapse of the building is avoided 
    2. sufficient fire separation is provided within buildings and between adjoining buildings 
    3. automatic fire suppression is provided where necessary
    4. the unseen spread of fire and smoke in cavities is restricted. 
  4. Requirement B4: Restrict both: 
    1. the potential for fire to spread over external walls and roofs (including compliance with regulations 6(4) and 7(2)) 
    2. the spread of fire from one building to another. 
  5. Requirement B5: Ensure both: 
    1. satisfactory access for the fire service and its appliances 
    2. facilities in buildings to help firefighters save the lives of people in and around buildings.

Smoke alarms and a means of escape are all that are required for fire safety for any habitable room up to 4.5m above ground.

Sounding An Alarm

For new homes and extensions, at least one mains-powered smoke alarm system with detector/alarms interlinked should be fitted on each floor. They should be positioned within 7.5m of bedroom doors and located in landings and hallways.

Open plan areas which feature kitchens create an added risk. They require the addition of a heat detector/alarm interlinked to the smoke alarm system.

 

Means Of Escape

Escape from the ground storey

All habitable rooms (excluding kitchens) should have either of the following. 

  • An opening directly onto a hall leading to a final exit. 
  • An emergency escape/egress window or door

Escape from upper storeys to a maximum of 4.5m above ground level

All habitable rooms (excluding kitchens) should have either of the following. 

  • An emergency escape/egress window or door
  • Direct access to a protected stairway (a stairway which is adequately protected from the rest of the building by fire-resisting construction)

Smoke alarms and a means of escape are all that are required for fire safety for any habitable room up to 4.5m above ground.

Emergency Escape/Egress Windows

Windows providing emergency escape should:

  • Have a minimum area of 0.33m²
  • Have a minimum height of 450mm and a minimum width of 450mm
  • Be no higher than 1.1m from the finished floor level
  • Be capable of remaining open without being held

You may also need emergency escape/egress windows on ‘inner’ rooms. Inner rooms occur when you have to pass through another (access) room to reach the hall, stairway or external door. Therefore, a fire in the access room means escape is necessary through an emergency escape/egress window or an alternative door route.

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Escape from upper storeys more than 4.5m above ground level

Dwellings with one storey more than 4.5m above ground level

The dwelling should have either:

  • A protected stairway (a stairway which is adequately protected from the rest of the building by fire-resisting construction)
  • An alternative escape route

Dwellings with two or more storeys more than 4.5m above ground level

In addition to having:

  • A protected stairway (a stairway which is adequately protected from the rest of the building by fire-resisting construction)

The dwelling should comply with either of the following:

  • Provide an alternative escape route from each storey more than 7.5m above ground level
  • Provide a sprinkler system throughout, designed and installed in accordance with BS 9251

For storeys above 4.5m, no inner rooms are allowed.

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Fire Safety and Loft Extensions

Where a loft conversion creates a new storey above 4.5m, both of the following should apply:

  • The full extent of the escape route should be addressed (People will need a protected route through the stairway without passing through any rooms.)
  • Fire resisting doors (minimum E 20) and partitions (minimum REI 30) should be provided, including upgrading the existing doors where necessary.
    NOTE: Where the layout is open plan, new partitions should be provided to enclose the escape route

Alternatively, you can comply with all of the following:

  • Provide sprinkler protection to the open-plan areas.
  • Provide a fire resisting partition (minimum REI 30) and door (minimum E 20) to separate the ground storey from the upper storeys. The door should allow occupants of the loft room access to a first storey escape window.
  • Separate cooking facilities from the open-plan area with fire resisting construction (minimum REI 30).

 

General Fire Safety Tips

  • Test smoke alarms regularly to ensure that they still work.
  • Take care when cooking – around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets – faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 6,000 fires in the home across the country every year
  • Make sure cigarettes are properly put out and disposed of carefully – use an ashtray
  • Be careful with candles 
  • Plan an escape route

For more guidance about how to make a home safe from fire, see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/make-your-home-safe-from-fire

 

If you have any questions about planning an extension and making sure your home complies with fire safety regulations, or just questions about creating your dream home in general, go ahead and book a free call below with Yoop.

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