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Protected escape

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I'm currently carrying out some work on a restaraunt, and have had a bit of a disagreement with the client about the stair case.. The building is quite old, and has been used as a restaraunt for quite some time, so this is just a refurb and not change of use.

The entrance door opens in to a wine bar area, with a 1/2 hour fire door opening onto the stairs. On the half landing there is a door leading onto a fire escape to the rear of the property. The stairs then lead onto the first floor, straight into the main restaraunt area, with two double doors immediately to the left of the stairs leading to the kitchen. Originally the stairs carried on to the flat above, but the balustrading has been blocked off with supalux and a fire door fitted.

I've told the client the staircase should be seperated from the restaraunt area to the protect stairs, which are only means of escape from the flat. This would still leave the kitchen doors leading on to the stairs, he has no problem with upgrading the kitchen doors (which is still not ideal, but the best of bad job), but isn't happy about the idea of having a screen and doors fitted into the restaraunt area. His arguement is that the building has been operating like this for years, and must have acceptable before.

His reservations are more about aesthetic and practicallity rather than cost, and I do see his point. Even done properly, with a nice glazed screen and doors, its going to look out of place, but I can't see any work around.

Anyone got any ideas?

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It appears you have reviewed the situation well and providing the travel distance/occupancy numbers meet the guide standards, with a good fire alarm, the restaurant may be acceptable, but the flat is not. If there is no alternative means of escape from the flat and the fire service was to inspect there would be a good case for a prohibition notice, preventing the use of the flat, also possible prosecution, unless the staircase is protected.

Like you I believe the restaurateur has no choice and a protected staircase is essential to an acceptable means of escape. Also "the building has been operating like this for years" would not be be a defence if you were before the man with a curly wig.

Approved Document B (Fire Safety) volume 2. Office and Shops.

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