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Alternatives to a Protected Staircase in a Three Storey House


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On Grand Designs (House of the Year) tonight 23/11, they showed a 3 storey house which had a staircase from the top floor that discharged into an open plan living room/kitchen so did not provide a protected route to a final exit.

Many years ago I was involved with a project where a similar arrangement was overcome by the use of a domestic sprinkler system in the living room. However, although Grand Designs didnt say there wasnt a sprinkler system present in this house, for the life of me I couldn't see any signs - even of a concealed head - but then being concealed, I may have missed.

So my question is, when considering a loft conversion above a 2 storey house (to make a habitable space on the second floor) that will utilise a staircase that discharged into an open plan living/kitchen space, are there alternatives in addition to sprinklers to mitigate the lack of a protected staircase? 

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