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Fire protection for meter cupboard locared under staircase

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I am looking for some help understanding fire protection requirements for a communal meter cupboard located in the property in which I live.

The property consists of:

  • 5 self contained flats over 5 floors of a converted period building
  • 4 of which share a communal main entrance and hallway (including staircase) leading to the individual flat entrances, this staircase forms the only escape route for these 4 flats
  • 1 flat has its own external main entrance (basement flat) and does not share any of the communal space, the flat opens directly to the outside space
  • The flats are a mixture of owner occupied and rented

A fire safety inspection was undertaken. The inspector identified the property as an HMO which will influence fire protection requirements.

The following requests were made as part of the report:

  • Meter cupboard to be bought up to BS 476 standards

The meter cupboard requirements are very light on detail, only mentioning the BS 476 standards. I need to ensure work undertaken provides the necessary protection.

I have completed some research online and in particular within this useful forum. Posts I believe to be relevant are:

It seems as though many factors may influence the requirements:

  • Age of the premises
  • Condition of the property
  • Evacuation strategy for the building
  • Combustibles in the vicinity
  • Any additional risks posed by other equipment in addition to the meters
  • Guidance that was contemporary at the time the premises was altered
  • The internal construction of the cupboard
  • The location of the cupboard under the stairs which form the only escape route for flats above

All of the above points will influence the requirements; I understand that without visiting the property and viewing the cupboard it would be difficult to specify exactly what is required.

However, would anyone be able to provide a basic overview of:

  • What is required as a minimum, based on the facts outlined above
  • Additional requirements which will need to be investigated, based on the specific construction/location/condition etc. of the current cupboard

Any help would be gratefully received.






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It's not just the door that needs to be a fire door - if the stair is wooden it needs underdrawing with a suitable layer of fire boarding (usually plasterboard of at least 12.5mm or glass reinforced gyspum sheeting of at least 10mm) suitably secured to a metal or wooden stud with edges sealed with fire mastic

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Thank you for your response, Anthony.

It has been a while since I posted this question and some work has been completed on the communal meter cupboard in our building to improve the compartmentalisation.

  • Installation of 30m fire resistant door
  • Door edge lined with intumescent strip
  • Door fitted with a key operated lock

The new door does not have a self-closing device but does have a lock which ensures the cupboard is closed at all times.

Does a communal meter cupboard require a self closer or should a lock operated door suffice for compliance with safety regulations?


Inside the cupboard a partition wall exists but needs to be repaired, based on your advice I am recommending the installation of Gypsum Glasroc board (glass reinforced) on to the existing wooden stud, example:


I will also recommend the installation of the same Gypsum Glasroc board to the ceiling of the cupboard.

Combined, the new door, lining of the ceiling and the upgrading of the partition wall will compartmentalise the cupboard, providing fire resistance from the wooden stairway construction above.

Behind the partition there is a power supply to which we need access for servicing.

I am recommending an aperture to be cut in the partition and the installation of a fire rated access panel, example:


Does this seem to be a sound approach, can you see any faults with my design?

At the edges/joins of the partition, fire rated panel and ceiling lining I assume fire resistant sealant should be used, is this correct?


Thank you in advance, the advice received on this forum to date has been invaluable.


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Cupboards and the like, being infrequently accessed, do not require self closers if they are kept locked shut and signed as shut.

Edges should be sealed with intumescent mastic/putty.

All looks good from here!

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Guest rogerh
On 22/10/2016 at 11:47, Dean said:

The inspector identified the property as an HMO which will influence fire protection requirements.

Why? If the flats are as described, i.e. all self-contained, it's not an HMO. The tenants would need to "share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants".


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I fully agree roger but if the meter cupboard is in the communal area it will still need to meet a full 30 minutes fire resistance, so all above still applies. 

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Guest Sam

Hello everyone, I was wondering if it is possible to paint the understairs cupboard with a fire retardant material instead of boarding?

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