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Guest Kenji

Blocking of Fire Exits

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Guest Kenji

Hi,

I should start by saying that this is not a project that i am working on but I happened to visit a building that I have previously worked in and noticed something's and just wanted some information about if what they have done is legal.

I used to regularly work in a studio theatre with an audience capacity of 350. The audience area has 3 fire exits including the main entrance to the theatre. The backstage area has one large door into the theatre space which is held open by a fire alarm operated magnetic release mechanism. This is designated the fire exit from backstage however there is also another small door from backstage that goes in to a fire escape route that goes to a final exit door as far as I am aware this small door is not a designated fire exit door or at least labeled as such. There is also a cat ladder from backstage that goes to a roof hatch escape that goes over the roof to an external fire escape.

The theatre is currently not being used as a theatre and has temporarily been converted into an art gallery this has meant the construction of some stud walls. One of these walls has covered over the big door from backstage and therefore blocked the main escape from backstage. Obviously because the theatre is not being used as a theatre the backstage area is not really being occupied however there is still the possibility that a technician may have to go backstage to collect equipment for use in other spaces in the building. So there could be the odd person backstage. So although there are still 2 exits from backstage one of them is not a designated exit. Are they allowed to just do this or do they need some form of special permission from the licencising authority.

On a seperate note they have also built a stud wall blocking off an area of the theatre with the 2 fire exit doors in the stuff wall they have although built a double width push door in this wall so that the original doors can be accessed in the event of needing to evacuate. This new door has a maintained fire exit sign above it but doesn't have any markings on the actual door and the door is in fact designed to blend into the wall. They have lowered the maximum capacity of the room to take into account the reduced exit width but is the rest of this within the guidelines or do they need to have signage on the actual door?

Knowing the building it is unlikely they have changed there fire risk assessments as I said not my project I am just interested in the legal position.

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The premises are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the enforcing authority is the Fire and Rescue Service. The licence authority will insist that an up to date Fire Risk Assessment under the RR(FS)O is available on the premises but it is up to the FRS to audit the premises.

All exits are dedicated fire exits, if they are needed to escape from a fire. If a route is unfamiliar to the occupants, for example routes not in normal use, or people who are unfamiliar to the premises, like visitors, then these routes should be signed using the standard fire exit sign.

I would think a maintained fire exit sign above a door would be sufficient to indicate it was a fire door leading to a place of safety but there is no way of giving a definitive response without a physical survey.

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Guest anonymous

I am writing to you anonymously due to concerns of fire safety at my workplace. There is a padlock system on the fire exit on the fifth floor. This may be an emergency bolt, but during the last fire alarm (which was not a scheduled drill) staff from this floor were denied use of this fire exit. All fifth floor staff were sent down through the main stair well, although some were then filed through other evacuated office floors to rejoin the secondary fire stairwell from there, putting them in a potentially risky situation. The progress through the building was so slow during this incident that all staff were stood perfectly still for a solid two minutes waiting for others to move.
On the third floor of the building there is not sufficient space between the desks due to overcrowding. This is a health and safety risk in the event of fire.
In past late night incidents of fire alarms being sounded, staff have filed down the secondary fire exit stairwell and found the door at the bottom is locked so they are unable to leave the building. Staff do not work past 10pm.
If any of these count as breaches of fire safety please inform me. The company does not take kindly to whistle blowers and I would prefer to remain completely anonymous so as not to suffer for bringing this to the attention of this authority.

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On the 5th floor, if it was not a scheduled drill why didn't they break the glass bolt or device fitted and use that fire exit, how could they be denied?

If the progress was so slow then the Fire Risk Assessment needs reviewing.

The health and safety at work act clearly dictates the cubic area required by each person so there should not be any overcrowding if it is then they are breaking the law. (at least 11 cubic metres per person)

The door at the bottom of the secondary fire exit stairwell that was locked and they were unable to leave the building is clearly an offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

I am afraid if somebody doesn't bring it to the attention of the enforcing authority (Fire and Rescue Service) then nothing will be done, you could do it anonymously.

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/uk-fire-rescue-services-details/

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Guest Concerned worker

The business I work for are looking at implanted new plans with-in our warehouse which are when the forklift is in use in the warehouse there is to be barriers put up to block access doors to the warehouse. These doors that the barriers are going to be put across are Emergency Fire Exit Doors. Are they allowed to this. They are also putting up a sign on two of the doors to now say no exit which again are emergency exit doors. Can you let me know if the above are allowed as I want to make sure before I say anything. Thanks

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Because of the proposals that are being considered, a review of the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) would need to be conducted and dependant on the significant findings that arose would dictate if their proposals are acceptable. To make any comments you need to see that FRA, to understand if what is being done, is acceptable, and by the sound of it, it does not seem to be good practice.

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Guest Dan

My work place has blocked all fire exits off with pallets of stock because we have no room we feel like it has become an unsafe place to work is there any one we could contact to do a check 

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Guest Guest k

I’m currently working a workshop that’s has blocked off the fire exit with in the wearhouse/  Assembly/ when I spoke to the site Forman he said they do not need to be clean. It’s been like this now for the past week. 

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Hello All,

It's good to be a part of this fire safety forum.

Alongside my desk at work, is a fire evacuation route for an adjacent room. The route is well over a meter wide, but it has become a bit of a dumping ground for old office chairs and big cardboard boxes from computer deliveries. Even taking these obstacles into account, the route which is free of obstacles is still probably over a meter wide. However, as the chairs are on castors, and the boxes aren't fixed to anything, they could easily be pushed into the route in the event of an evacuation. 

I have drawn all this to the attention of my Manager, but he's not dealing with it with any urgency. I'd like to put the pressure on him by pointing out that blocking a fire exit, or putting obstacles in a place where they could become hazardous in an evacuation, is a criminal offence. Would I be right to say that? Can anyone supply a reference or a link which I could send to him, please?

Many thanks in advance, for any help here.

 

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Technically it can be, it would breach Article 14 of the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which is Criminal Law, with fines and imprisonment as options on conviction.

 

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.

 

Staff who place items in the way could be seen to breach Article 23 as well.

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Guest Richard

Viewed a commercial property last year and decided to make an offer which was accepted.It is ground floor and basement.The basement will have 4 treatment rooms(shop will be a spa).There was a fire exit door in the basement which leads to a stairwell to pavement level.

The landlord has fitted one-hour fire doors upstairs but also has bricked up the fire escape door downstairs.

Can he do this without planning permission??

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I cannot give a definitive reply with out a lot more information, but from what you say I would think he could have worsened the means of escape which would be classed as a material alteration and therefore require build regulation approval.

Contact local building control with your concerns.

Check out Approved Document B (fire Safety) volume 2: Premises other than Dwelling Houses.

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Guest Richard

Many thanks Tom  I will contact the council tomorrow

I contacted the local fire safety office and they offered to inspect with me 

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Guest Guest

Hi,

If fire exits are blocked by stock in a warehouse with no visibility can you communicate to staff that the fire exits are not in use and outline which fire doors are available to use?

 

Thanks 

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