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Nikon2013

Fire risk, Items to be removed from under Stairs

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Hi

I wonder if someone can give a little advice!

I live in a building with 9 flats over two storey's, its open plan from when you first enter the main door, there is not really a lobby as such, just the space to enter. There are two filights of wooden stairs which are 'open plan' and the staircases themselves are 'open' meaning when I go up the stairs I can see through under the stairs, (basically, if i drop my keys they can go through the back of the stairs to the level below or land on the electric cupboard if its the first flight)

Anyway, I have been there 13 years, all nine flats are privately owned and we used to have a resident who would organise the window cleaners, gardeners etc, and as we were all Directors of the 'Association' and own the leasehold, This tennant has now sold and moved away, and another tennant has obviiously moved in. As there was now no-one to organise the 'running' of the block we all decided to hand it over to a management Co who have been looking after the management for little over a year now, recently they have left a notice on the groundfloor staircase informing residents that all items under the stairs need to be removed as the passageway must be kept 'clear'

My argument is why?.. I understand about the fire regulations etc, but the items are not in anyway shape of form obstructing anyone from exiting the building at all, only one flat passes that area in anycase, (I'm not saying just because it only effects one person so it doesnt matter, besides, the resident there has no problems with items there, as there is some of their stuff among the items!!)

Should (hopefully not) a fire situation arise everyone has clear access to get out in any case, even in the dark you are more likely bump your head under the stairs before you got 'obstructed' by said items, Nothing has ever been said in the past, we have had no problems getting insurance for the block in the past so once again I ask, why?

Incidently I only knew of the notice because someone in the building mentioned it to me, its not an area I visit often, only to get my 8 year old daughters bike, the notice gave residents 7 days else things would be removed by the Management Co, but the notice never had a date on it, it could have been there for six days as far as I know and I still wouldn't have been non the wiser!, I would have a better chance of seeing the notice if they posted it on a lampost outside! Can they take away the items?

any help would be appreciated,

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When you decided to use a management company they became the responsible person under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and are required to implement the above order. It requires them to conduct a fire risk assessment in the common areas including the front doors of the flats and requires them to ensure under,

Emergency routes and exits 14. -(1) Where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, the responsible person must ensure that routes to emergency exits from premises and the exits themselves are kept clear at all times.

If they fail to carry out the conditions of the order they could be prosecuted which could include the tenants.

I would suggest you abide by their instructions and all this should have been done prior to them taking control, you were lucky the Fire and rescue service did not conduct an audit.

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/regulatory-reform-fire-safety-order-2005/

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Guest Lee-anneBra

I live in a 2 storey flat and have stored my push bike in a cupboard under the stairs. This cupboard does not lead anywhere and is always locked. It contains the electric meter for the block of flats but does not have a smoke alarm and the bike does not cause an obstruction to anyone. Is this still classed as a fire risk?

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I wouldn't think so there is no ignition sources on a push bike and it is not going to cause an obstruction, assuming it is not one assisted by motor means.

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Guest ChristineSim

The is an open area under the stairs in my block of 3 apartments. It goes from ceiling height down to the floor. Can I store a pushchair out of the way under the stairs or will the landlords need to build a cupboard under the stairs to form a storage unit?

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Not necessarily it will depend on the adopted policy of the landlord, I would consider it a low fire risk and therefore not required to be protected by a fire resistant enclosure but it could cause an obstruction in the common area,m so I would speak to the landlord.

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Guest Vending under stairs

My educational establishment wishes to install three vending machines tucked away from any escape route but in an area directly below a staircase - would this contravene Fire Regulations?

Kind Regards,

John

 

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Possibly - the staircase is the escape route and the requirement is not only to keep protected escapes clear but also have them free from combustibles and ignition sources.

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Guest Christine

Does a push bike tucked under the stairs in the entrance of a two floor block of seven flats pose any fire risk? The bike in no way obstructs any fire escapes.I think as a bike is not combustible it can not catch fire?

Christine

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I agree it is not a fire risk, but the possibility that it could be an obstruction risk, depending on how it is secured under the stairs. Another problem is, if one person starts using the escape route to store items, others may follow which then causes problems for the Responsible Person (RP). You need to discuss it with the RP and see if you can come to some compromise. 

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Guest curioustenant

My housing association has recently ordered all residents in our block of 6 flats to remove door mats in the communal hallway as they are apparently a fire safety hazard. The flat layout is such that they do not "obstruct" any pathway except the tenant from leaving their own flat. This seems an over zealous breech of power thought up to the delight of some jobsworth.  Is this demand actually enforceable?

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I suspect it the Responsible Person considers it a trip hazard not a fire hazard and in my opinion it should be risk assessed, sometimes it is a problem other times it is not.

It is enforceable but I would imagine it is unlikely the enforcing authority would take action but you never know.

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Guest curioustenant

Thanks for replying, Tom

How much leeway is the Responsible Person given to reduce such potential hazards to absolutely zero?  Is there an official way to challenge their list of demands by a more reasonable person?

 

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The Responsible Person has a duty to reduce any potential hazards to as low as possible if he/she cannot eradicate them.  I am not aware of any legal methods to get him/her to change their minds other than persuasion. The main problem is if you ignore his/her directive and things go pear shaped he/she has a ready made patsy. 

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Guest Jukebox

I am wondering about an internal staircase-4 stories high. Carpeted.  I know we can't have furniture under there. But we have resident who like to paint. Could be have our residents gallery there? 

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Providing it is a limited number of hung paintings I cannot  see any major problems but you will need the permission of the Responsible Person (the owner or management company).

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Guest matt

I have a client who is wanting to store two fridges underneath some stairs that lead up to their offices. There is an alternate escape route and the stairs are concrete however my main concern is that there is no detection at the bottom of the stairs, what are you thoughts on this?

 

Many thanks 

Matt 

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Guest paDsy

We manage a number of properties that house 5 or more tenants as a 'HMO'.  In some of these properties we have a fridge/freezer under the stairs.  The stairs is classed as an escape route for the bedrooms up stairs, and we use fireboard under the stairs to provide at least the 30 minutes of fire resistance required by our local authority.  

We also have a number of properties where we have a fridge/tumble dryer by or near to the front door, in the escape route. 

In a recent (2019) HMO inspection, we have been asked to remove the dryers and other appliances from the escape route, not necessarily as they are an obstruction, as there's plenty of room, but because they are a potential point of combustion. 

My question is, is the space on the underside of the stairs considered part of the escape route, or is providing fire resistant board, considered to be adequate protection to the route (stairs) above?  Note the the space under the stairs open sided, and the fireboard is only applied to the understairs. 

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Without knowing the layout of the premises it is impossible to give an informed response. Ask yourself what would happen if any of these appliance went on fire would all the tenants be able to escape to outside the premises, and not been prevented by heat or smoke.

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If you've underdrawn the stair but not enclosed the area it's almost pointless as fire effluent and heat can still render the escape route untenable quickly, way before the burning of the stair would be an issue.

Quite a proportion of house fires, including fatal fires, start in white goods like these so it's no surprise they are taking the approach they are.

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