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AnthonyB

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  1. The legislation requiring flat front doors to be compliant has been in place for years, just ignored by many - the forthcoming change in legislation means block owners can't wriggle out of assessing front doors and external walls in risk assessments.

    The standard for front doors is and will remain an FD30S door with an EN 1154 compliant self closer.

    The only thing people are waiting for is the new guidance which will determine for existing blocks if new doors are required, existing doors can be upgraded or existing doors can remain.

    The draft of the new small blocks of flats fire safety guide indicates new fire doors will not be automatic in old blocks, it remains to be seen if the guide for larger blocks also follows this pattern as was the case in the original single guide for blocks of flats.

  2. Most purpose built flats just need detectors to corridors and stairs to open smoke vents with no call points or sounders. Where the fire strategy leans more to evacuation you would expect sounders & detection in addition, both in the common areas and also extending into the flats (usually the hallway) and there are often call points too, although if a risk of vandalism they may have been omitted as a variation.

     

  3. If sufficient units have been placed at the right internals for their spacing tables in order to achieve the required lux level and there is evidence of this you should be fine.

    However if, based on observations and lack of other documentary evidence, the assessor suspects there may be insufficient or poorly spaced fittings and/or they appear to be fitted to the older editions of the standard (with far lesser lux requirements) they would be reasonable to advise that the system needs verification.

  4. Unfortunately enforcement under the current legislation is very watered down and they won't usually bother with a single breach of the legislation, there needs to be a cumulative amount of issues leading to extremely high risk. There are thousands of sites around the country that don't meet requirements, but get 'broadly compliant' letters from the fire service.

    You could go down the Housing EHO route, but what with the Grenfell Enquiry still being in full swing you might be advised to get press interest in LFB's approach.

  5. Current government guidance is not to have communal extinguishers in flats to avoid people re-entering a burning flat once already in a protected route instead of continuing to escape.

    Users are often untrained, the communal extinguishers are often unsuitable for some of common domestic fire causes (electrical, cooking oils) and as the common areas are protected escape routes they should not contain anything to need extinguishing in the first place.

    The management company would be following current accepted practice.

  6. You could go with the HMO fire safety guidance that is still used by enforcers (LACORS) which doesn't recognise this new <200 sq.m. category (because it's old, it is under review, but not likely to be updated in the near future it's still a way to go).

    It's a clear reduction of the original requirements that were for cover everywhere.

  7. Yes, you need a category & grade based on the layout, use and size of the premises. There is a big difference between a load of radio linked Grade D2 smoke & heat alarms and a full Grade A fire alarm system - either of which could apply in your case!

  8. Legally the absolute minimum for renting (England) is just a smoke detector to each landing and a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a solid fuel appliance.

    Single dwellings, even if rented, have quite minimal fire safety requirements and most modernisation comes about under the Building Regulations should a premises be altered significantly enough to warrant application of current standards.

    Voluntarily the sky is the limit of course. Interlinking detectors, increasing detector cover to more rooms is quite low level additions, extremes are protecting the stair (old school method, enclose it up to the hall) or automatic suppression (the modern way, but as listed may need to be mist based and even self contained units rather than standard residential sprinklers)

    Of course free of charge are the various fire prevention measures for the home to reduce the risk of fire in the first place but I'm sure you are already well on top of that!

  9. There are fire resistant suspended ceilings, but I would suspect your existing grid wouldn't be adequate so you couldn't just change the tiles.

    Plywood wouldn't be much use and you need really to protect the risk side, i,e, the underneath. It doesn't matter what goes on top if the structural floor underneath collapses due to fire damage.

    It's common to underdraw the ceiling with two layers of 12.5mm plasterboard and most solutions require the false ceiling to come down to put into place.

    You are best using experts for this - search for Passive Fire Protection contractors.

  10. Even a tent is 'premises' for the purposes of the Fire Safety Order so the fact it's just a container is no exemption.

    The legislation only requires portable fire extinguishers 'where necessary' and then only for life safety. Based on your information there are no ignition risks, and combustibles that would usually only feed an established fire rather than be readily ignitable in their own right. In fact your main fire risk is probably from arson using accelerants when no one would be there to do anything in the small window an extinguisher gives in any case.

    It sounds like your 'engineer' has been doing visual inspections rather than a full Basic Service and from the last dates they were properly serviced should have identified they will be overdue the 5 year Extended Service (unless any are CO2 where they have a 10 year life before overhaul) and realistically are due replacement (few servicing companies have the means any more to carry out Extended Services where extinguishers have to be discharged and emptied, stripped down, internally inspected and recharged).

    If you want an extinguisher for property protection then the best options are ones you don't need a qualified and insured external service company for such as:

    https://www.safelincs.co.uk/car-fire-extinguisher-fireblitz/
    https://www.safelincs.co.uk/britannia-2kg-powder/

  11. What size is it?

    Some simple small buildings require no compartmentation and, depending on travel distance and number of exits, no protected routes either.

    Based on it's age if any of the doors are intended to be fire doors they may be to the old pre-intumescent seal standards where the door would be well fitting into a 25mm rebate.

    If so it's up to the risk assessment process to determine how essential it is to upgrade (read PAS79-1 for a fuller explanation, you should ideally be following it's methodology in any case).

    You would consider the persons at risk, exits, alarm system, fire risks, other protection, etc when deciding if modernisation is just a recommendation or a necessity to protect the occupiers.

  12. Category L2 related to non domestic fire alarm systems and is the one before the top layer of detection provision - it incorporates manual call points and sounders (M), Escape routes (L4), rooms opening onto escape routes (L3) and covers other specific risks identified in the system design (i.e. no fixed criteria, in theory you could have two identical buildings both with L2 systems, one having 2 extra detectors to locations not covered by L3 and the other having 22 extra detectors covering a wider range of areas. Usually it's places like motor rooms, plant rooms, electrical intakes, kitchens and the like but doesn't have to be).

    Grade relates to domestic fire alarm systems, the ones most familiar to most people being the Grades F (battery only, subdivided into tamper proof and user changeable types) and D (mains with back up battery, also subdivided between tamper and non tamperproof). Grade A is where the same equipment as used on commercial systems is used however whilst the design & installation requirements are similar they are not the same with a small number of differences.

    The life safety categories for domestic systems are LD1, 2 & 3 which whilst similar in principle to the L categories are very different in where they go being based on house/flat layouts and instead of starting with manual call points as in commercial systems, they usually only come in at the highest grade of system.

    Things can be more confusing as depending on the type of premises and reason for installation you can have a commercial BS5839-1 'L' category system type installation of panel, call points, detectors and sounders (e.g. purpose built flats needing evacuation strategy or sheltered housing) or the same equipment but installed & designed as a domestic BS5839-6 Grade A 'LD' category system (e.g. large HMO's, certain conversions of houses to flats)

  13. That's ticked one box then, your fire risk assessor should be your next port of call.

    As the corridor is over 12m you would be looking at breaking it up with cross corridor fire doors although depending on travel distances to the protected stairs the whole corridor may not need protection.

  14. My Employer has recently rented some office space in building which is an old converted barn and in use as such for 20yrs plus. We've just had our first external fire inspection/service/maintenance visit from external contractors and their report highlights actions and a large quote for said works. I'm querying the following points:

    i) The Fire Control Panel needs replacing as over manufacturers 10yr guarantee so doesn't conform to BS5839-1 2017 - I'd argue its fit for purpose as is tested weekly and risk of deterioration is minimal as located in dry, warm reception foyer

    That's a good sales line, if the panel still works fine, then it stays in service - the British Standard doesn't actually set life spans like this as long as it works. If it is an addressable system however some makes do become obsolete and can't be repaired or altered - but from what you say this isn't the line they are taking so probably isn't the case

    ii) The loft space requires means of detection - The loft is empty bar insulation and wiring (lights) and we will not be using. I'd argue that the risk of ignition is low and detection isn't required to ensure safe evac of staff in the office below. I'm going to have it secured and sign as 'permit to work required' so that temporary fire detection (smoke angel etc.) can be arranged in the unlikely event of works up there.

    It would be contrary to the standard, however the Fire Risk Assessment determines what is required in a specific situation. If genuinely low risk, lack of cover could be mitigated in the FRA. It could be rubber stamped for the alarm company if an 'agreed variation' to BS5839-1 was put in place if agreed with all relevant parties.

    Questions:

    1) On the face of info presented does anybody disagree with these risk based judgments presented in i & ii? If I'm wrong I'm happy to be told so but there is a bit of holding the Contractor to account here as the feeling is they state BS compliance too readily and quote happily rather than giving professional advice on options.

    See above - companies will stick to the BS (or weird misinterpretations/applications thereof)  as (a) it can be used to make money & (b) they aren't doing the FRA and don't want to be seen as responsible in any way for determining precautions that could be taken to be being involved in the FRA so will stick to the BS.

     

      8 hours ago, Edward said:

    2) RRFSO is about Duty Holder requirement to aid early detection and evac to protect life - it doesn't take in to account property (apart from if say collapse of such property would endanger others in which case Emergency arrangements would dictate others would be alerted) Correct?

    Life safety only, correct

    3)  I get that *ensuring* there is provision of fire detection and alarm systems is a employers requirement under RRFSO but is it not trumped by Landlord Act or Occupiers liability Act which state that Landlord arrangements to be in place to 'safeguard/protect' (not so familiar with these so not sure of phase/language) people other than their visitors? I've read articles that fire alarm systems are Landlord responsibilities unless express agreement/statement otherwise. 

    No, the FSO stands separate. You are both the employer and by way of your lease person having control of the premises so determining the requirements in your area is yours - also if it is a single occupancy self contained let system remains your responsibility to provide and maintain unless your lease specifically says otherwise (& you would then have a Service Charge). If it's just a suite or floor in a larger building with a single common system serving both common and tenanted areas then your landlord would be liable for it's maintenance, all you would need to do is identify if it's sufficient for your needs and if not tell the landlord who must make it so (but they could recharge costs, particularly if the changes are due to alterations you've made to the suite after moving in)

    4) unrelated but kind of related (going back to my assessment of fire risk in the attic) am I right in thinking the Landlord has respnsibility to demonstrate and ensure electrical system is safe ie produce a EICR report and evidence of completed works where highlighted as C1, C2.. 

    It's common for a let to be handed over with a current clear EICR, the tenant usually only accepts responsibility thereafter (assuming they remain in occupancy long enough for another EICR to become due)

     

    5) BS isn't a legal requirement correct? May be a stipulation of the Landlords building insurance though correct? What about my Employers insurer, say in the event of injury or worse for cover to be in place to protect against civil claim.

    No, but it is used as a benchmark by the Courts. Therefore any deviation must be justifiable and demonstrate that it does not lead to a risk to relevant persons compared to meeting the BS. It is possible to agree such variations and I have done this in FRA's in the past.

    Thanks in advance. 

    ES (H&S Mgr)

     

  15. 7 hours ago, Edward said:

    My Employer has recently rented some office space in building which is an old converted barn and in use as such for 20yrs plus. We've just had our first external fire inspection/service/maintenance visit from external contractors and their report highlights actions and a large quote for said works. I'm querying the following points:

    i) The Fire Control Panel needs replacing as over manufacturers 10yr guarantee so doesn't conform to BS5839-1 2017 - I'd argue its fit for purpose as is tested weekly and risk of deterioration is minimal as located in dry, warm reception foyer

    That's a good sales line, if the panel still works fine, then it stays in service - the British Standard doesn't actually set life spans like this as long as it works. If it is an addressable system however some makes do become obsolete and can't be repaired or altered - but from what you say this isn't the line they are taking so probably isn't the case

    ii) The loft space requires means of detection - The loft is empty bar insulation and wiring (lights) and we will not be using. I'd argue that the risk of ignition is low and detection isn't required to ensure safe evac of staff in the office below. I'm going to have it secured and sign as 'permit to work required' so that temporary fire detection (smoke angel etc.) can be arranged in the unlikely event of works up there.

    It would be contrary to the standard, however the Fire Risk Assessment determines what is required in a specific situation. If genuinely low risk, lack of cover could be mitigated in the FRA. It could be rubber stamped for the alarm company if an 'agreed variation' to BS5839-1 was put in place if agreed with all relevant parties.

    Questions:

    1) On the face of info presented does anybody disagree with these risk based judgments presented in i & ii? If I'm wrong I'm happy to be told so but there is a bit of holding the Contractor to account here as the feeling is they state BS compliance too readily and quote happily rather than giving professional advice on options.

    See above - companies will stick to the BS (or weird misinterpretations/applications thereof)  as (a) it can be used to make money & (b) they aren't doing the FRA and don't want to be seen as responsible in any way for determining precautions that could be taken to be being involved in the FRA so will stick to the BS.

     

    7 hours ago, Edward said:

    2) RRFSO is about Duty Holder requirement to aid early detection and evac to protect life - it doesn't take in to account property (apart from if say collapse of such property would endanger others in which case Emergency arrangements would dictate others would be alerted) Correct?

    Life safety only, correct

    3)  I get that *ensuring* there is provision of fire detection and alarm systems is a employers requirement under RRFSO but is it not trumped by Landlord Act or Occupiers liability Act which state that Landlord arrangements to be in place to 'safeguard/protect' (not so familiar with these so not sure of phase/language) people other than their visitors? I've read articles that fire alarm systems are Landlord responsibilities unless express agreement/statement otherwise. 

    No, the FSO stands separate. You are both the employer and by way of your lease person having control of the premises so determining the requirements in your area is yours - also if it is a single occupancy self contained let system remains your responsibility to provide and maintain unless your lease specifically says otherwise (& you would then have a Service Charge). If it's just a suite or floor in a larger building with a single common system serving both common and tenanted areas then your landlord would be liable for it's maintenance, all you would need to do is identify if it's sufficient for your needs and if not tell the landlord who must make it so (but they could recharge costs, particularly if the changes are due to alterations you've made to the suite after moving in)

    4) unrelated but kind of related (going back to my assessment of fire risk in the attic) am I right in thinking the Landlord has respnsibility to demonstrate and ensure electrical system is safe ie produce a EICR report and evidence of completed works where highlighted as C1, C2.. 

    It's common for a let to be handed over with a current clear EICR, the tenant usually only accepts responsibility thereafter (assuming they remain in occupancy long enough for another EICR to become due)

     

    5) BS isn't a legal requirement correct? May be a stipulation of the Landlords building insurance though correct? What about my Employers insurer, say in the event of injury or worse for cover to be in place to protect against civil claim.

    No, but it is used as a benchmark by the Courts. Therefore any deviation must be justifiable and demonstrate that it does not lead to a risk to relevant persons compared to meeting the BS. It is possible to agree such variations and I have done this in FRA's in the past.

    Thanks in advance. 

    ES (H&S Mgr)

     

     

  16. Technically no, but it is strongly recommended as often (not always to be fair) non approved installations are sometimes not correct. However if you feel you are competent to a legally defensible level then it's fine.

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