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Potential blocking of fire exit route by cupboard door

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As part of a kitchen refit we have been asked to fit a second built in fridge in our Community Hall by the Nursery which is a regular hirer.  Our preferred site is in a separate adjoining room, but the Nursery are insisting that it be fitted in the kitchen.  In the first photo it would replace the existing freestanding unit beside the red bucket.  We did have a dedicated cleaning cupboard, but that was requisitioned by a hirer as soon as it was built hence the clutter shown in the first image - but that is another story!

The potential issue that we see is that the only place to fit the new unit means that when its door is opened it will open into the emergency exit route.  The kitchen has two doors, one of which leads to a short passage and a fire door whilst the other leads to a corridor and into a separate room where there is a fire exit.

We appreciate that in the event of a fire the fridge door can quickly be closed so it may not be a permanent hazard, but that depends on those involved having that presence of mind which may not occur in an emergency.  Occupants travelling in one direction would likely close the door simply by bumping into it, but of course if they travelled in the opposite direction it would be an immovable barrier.

There is sufficient space in the kitchen normally to go around any open cupboard doors, but we are trying to plan for a scenario which is not normal and escapers naturally prefer straight routes.

In addition, as the new fridge will be built in there would be a handle on the front of the cupboard enclosure which would always project into the room.  As the unit is for the Nursery's sole use they also want a lock on the front, though it is unlikely that this would project beyond the handle.

Having any cupboards on that side is not ideal, as there have been occasions when users have had to wait to come in as somebody is accessing the cupboards in the second photo.  The room was professionally designed (though as an aside it is not ideal to have a radiator behind a door, and the adjacent worktop makes servicing of it difficult...), and I understand that the layout was seen at the time of construction by our local fire safety inspector.

Could we remove the issue by not having the kitchen as part of an exit route from other parts of the building?  The door in the second photo leads to a short corridor with a fire exit to the rear of the building or into our main hall.  The door in the first photo leads via a corridor to a separate room which has a fire exit to the street as well as internal doors to our main hall - which itself has two emergency exits.

In theory there should be no need to try and escape via the kitchen from elsewhere in the building - but in practice emergencies are not predictable and other routes may be blocked.

I see no practical way that we can prevent anybody from taking a particular route - we do have signage, but in an emergency people in a perhaps unfamiliar building do not always act logically or in the way we might expect.

Numbers of occupants are likely to be well under 100, though of varying ages and mobility.  There would not always be members of the Hall committee on hand to assist, though many of our hirers are regular users so should be familar with the building layout.

I hope that you can give us some guidance on how we should deal with this dilemma. Thanks for reading!



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  • 11 months later...
Guest Teabags Mum

I have the same question (tall cupboard door which opens up into Fire Escape Route in first floor large office). It would encroach into the walkway gap reducing it to below the minimum requirement.

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