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Which grade system in a converted block of flats

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I'd appreciate some assistance. I live in a 3 storey 17th century listed building converted into flats in the 70s. There are 8 flats, and then 2 commercial properties on the ground floor.

3 of the flats are positioned above the shops. there is a small communal lobby for the flats, off which there is a stair case for flats 1&2. the other 5 flats are accessed from an external staircase, they they use the lobby for post etc.

No one has done anything regarding fire safety since conversion. We purchased our flat in 2022 and are finally pushing forward with sorting it. The FRA has suggested the LACORS guidelines of • Grade A: LD2 coverage in the common areas and a heat detector in each flat in the room/lobby opening, which is also linked to the commercial premises.

Its then stated Grade D :LD3 coverage in each flat.

I note grade A is required to have a control panel set up.

I looked up the BS 5839 part 6, which seems to suggest that firstly, a control panel is only required for more that 14 detectors - but also when looking up what class of premises we are, which are single occupant self contained flats, and do not count as a HMO it looks like we only require grade D1, LD2.

Please could someone shed some light?

I really want to be fire safe. I have my own interlinked alarm system - one around my own flat and then one that links down into the lobby and with the flats below me. These are battery operated, in line with the new regs for scottish households, but was the most I could get the other flat owners to agree to prior to the FRA. One of the shops downstairs have zero care for fire safety, and thankfully the local FD is liaising closely with them on this - but my preference would be to interlink with them also.

However, the law on flats requires for us to keep costs as low as possible, while obviously meeting the fire regs and remaining insurable, and the grade A system quotes so far is so expensive some flat owners simply dont have the money.



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Number of detectors has no connection with the required Grade of system. Where a Grade A system is required it essentially uses the same equipment as a commercial system to BS5839-1 with just some slight differences in system designimage.png.a18e3e9e1510585c169eb5ecf4231723.png

The categories and types come from here


The lay person gets understandably confused by referring to flats as HMO's. They are not HMO's in the traditionally recognised  sense (House of bedsits or bedrooms with shared kitchen and living room) but are houses (or similar) converted to flats but not to the standard required by post 1992 Building Regulations. As a result these are high risk premises and where the flats are majority rented a Council can choose to license it under s257 of the Housing Act using the HMO licensing scheme. It's not mandatory licensing so not all Councils require s257 flat conversions to be licensed.
From a Fire Safety Order point of view the risk is the same even if a flat conversion is majority or exclusively owner occupied (& thus not eligible for licensing under s247) so risk assessors and enforcers will apply the same fire safety requirements as set for those that do fall under the s257 system if it does not follow modern building regulations (& thus requires a full evacuation policy not stay put).

Of course you imply you are in Scotland. If this is the case there are no modern fire safety regulations protecting flats and residential premises beyond the recent smoke alarm requirements as the Scottish equivalent of the Fire Safety Order specifically excludes these premises - you don't even need a FRA like you do in England & Wales. So in theory as long as you meet the basic smoke alarm regulations which you state you do you are fine whereas in England & Wales you would need further work.

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Thanks so much for your reply.

The majority or the building is owner occupied, so it appears from the housing act that although we were converted pre 1992, we arent a HMO. it says exempt is more than 2/3rds owner occupied - does this make any difference?

I also should have clarified- we are in England, but I know that interconnected alarms started being required in scotland for domesic use so those are the ones I fitted.

Is a grade A commercial system our only option to be legal? The financial impact of this on leaseholders is huge. Our 'communal area' is a 4mx2m lobby with internal staircase to 2 flats.

I absoloutey want linking to the shop due to their disregard for residents safety/the law, but the Grade A system is what is a huge cost.

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If you need a shop link you will need a Grade A system. A wireless system may be an option as cheaper to install. For the size of building you shouldn't need a big expensive system, a simple conventional system would suit.

Due to the owner occupancy you can't be required to licensed, but that's a separate issue (& legislation) to the actual practical fire safety issue. If your risk assessment would tolerate only Grade D equipment AND the enforcers would accept that (even tough it's against guidance) you would be fine, but it's not guaranteed.

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