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Fire safety in mixed use building


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i have been asked to install a fire alarm system in a mixed use building covering all 5 floors, ground and Ist floor offices and 2nd to 5th floor residential flats. ground  floor office has separate entrance ,1st floor has separate and combined entrance with the residential floors. do i do as bs 5839, part 1 or bs 5839 part 6, which regs does it go under and what grade and category.

please advice

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You have not been given sufficient information and the Responsible Person (RP) should provide more details from the Fire risk assessment (FRA). The offices will be a part 1 system and the category will be decided by the RP. The common areas of the flats will be a part 1 system with heat detector in the hall of each flat and the flats will be a part 6 system, a grade D most probable. The need for a fire alarm should be detailed in the FRA showing the areas of cover or a fire alarm risk assessment with you and the RP involved.

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If the flats are to be part 6, grade d then is it necessary to install part 1 with heat detectors in each flats,instead how about part 1 in the common corridors of each floor  as the flats  are sharing the common corridors and lift. there are 3 flats in each floors. and the main fire alarm panel will be  in the ground floor entrance  

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If the FRA require a fire alarm you should install, a Grade L2 coverage in the common areas and a heat alarm in each flat in the room/lobby opening onto the escape route (interlinked); and Grade D: LD3 coverage in each flat (non-interlinked) smoke alarm in the room/lobby opening onto the escape route) to protect the sleeping occupants of the flat.

The reason is if a flat is unoccupied and there was a fire in the flat it could get out of control, breaking into the common areas making the common areas untenable for the rest of the tenants.


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  • 8 months later...
Guest Steve Cuthbert

In relation to mixed use buildings
A number of 2 level structures  made up of  a range of food outlets with kitchens and above are Flats/holiday lets.
There is no access or egress for disabled persons which is presently being contested by the council.
The access egress to the flats/holiday lets is made up of a wooden deck way.

We have made a number of queries about this because in the event of a fire  the only logical access egress point is itself flammable. however since we have identified this issue the local authority now claim the fire evacuation  from the flats can be achieved via the windows above the shop fronts and into the street.
The windows they refer to do not lead out onto any form of balcony or access egress emergency ladder or stairway, therefore there is only one alternative for anyone caught  in a blaze  and that is to jump.

Because the buildings are mixed use ie: commercial downstairs and flats / holiday lets above surely the FRA should be based against the highest risks within the structure?

Could you give me some clarification please?

Kind Regards


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I cannot give a definitive answer without a full survey of the said premises but what the council have said appears correct and in accordance with building regulations.

The FRA,s are for each independent premises (Food outlets) and the common areas of the flats / holiday lets, but they are required to cooperate and coordinate with each other.

There needs to be 60 minutes separation between the outlets and the flats and a wooden floor can achieve this. 

Check out https://www.firesafe.org.uk/regulatory-reform-fire-safety-order-2005/ and Approved Document B (fire Safety) volume 2: Premises other than Dwelling Houses may be usful.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi - I have recently purchased a mixed use freehold with a shop on ground floor and 3 flats on 1st floor accessed via a separate doorway/stairwell. The flats all have a linked domesticated fire alarm with smoke and heat detectors. The buildings inspector insisted on a smoke vent above the stairwell and has passed the conversion of the flats from offices since.

i believe there is 60 minute separation between the ground floor shop and flats.

do I need to link the shop fire alarm to the flats alarm? 

As the flats alarm is a residential system with no alarm panel - can this system be extended into the shop or does the shop need a commercial system with a panel? 

Thanks in advance 

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If the separation is to 60 minutes the shop doesn't need to be linked to the flats and that is why Building Control didn't require it.

The shop can then be assessed in isolation & if a small unit where a fire is going to be readily detected by the staff and small enough for a simple alarm of a shout, whistle, horn or gong to be heard throughout the unit, then it doesn't require a fire alarm system.

If it's larger then a commercial fire alarm system to BS5839-1 (the flats have a  residential system to BS5839-6) would be required with the legal minimum for a shop being called Category M consisting of manual call points ('break glasses'). Whether detection is required is based on layout and use or whether early warning for property protection (not a legal requirement, purely a business & insurance decision) is desired.

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  • 7 months later...
Guest Franky Boy

Hi, I have a bit of a dilemma which I could really do with some guidance please.
My clients have just purchased a 2 storey Grade II* listed building that they plan to open up a few areas only as a B&B. Initially they are only going to open up one room which consists of a small corridor area with two double bedrooms and a separate bathroom. In the future they might open up two other single rooms with double bed and en-suite also as B&B accommodation. There will be a Dining Room and Library room which guests can also use. They have no intention of ever going bigger than the three rooms, so a vast majority of the house will always remain as their own private areas with no access to paying guests.

The issue is do they require a BS5839 Part 1 Category L2 fire alarm system throughout, or is it possible to mix the systems, Part 1 in all areas where guests would have access to and Part 6 in the private areas.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


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You need to commission a fire risk assessor to carry out a full FRA.

However, based on the information the premises seem small enough in scope for the 'Do you have paying guests' guidance to apply which is more sympathetic than the standard Sleeping Premises guidance and allows the use of a Grade D residential smoke alarm system throughout instead.


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  • 1 year later...
Guest Bobby Ball

Hi could somebody provide me with an answer to my dilemma. A friend of mine lives in a top floor flat of a building which is laid out over 5 floor levels - The basement and ground floor level are commercial and the first, second and third levels are residential flats (3 flats in total). The ground floor level commercial area is presently being converted in to an Indian Restaurant with the basement to be used as a storage area for the restaurant.

Presently the flats are covered with a fire alarm panel which is located at the bottom of the residential stairs by the main front entry/exit door, with smoke detection throughout the common areas and a Heat detector just inside each of the three flats.

The Indian restaurant is going to be fitted with a new separate fire alarm system, and talking to the builder he has told me because there is adequate separation of
60-minutes between the commercial and residential areas the two fire alarm systems will remain totally separate.

My question is in the event of a fire,
A) should the two fire panels actually be linked in some way so they both activate to alert the whole building
B) should there be a sounder in the communal areas of the flats or within each flat that is linked to the Indian Restaurants system and visa versa,
C) Is what the builder said correct, the two systems should be totally independent of each other?
D) Something else

Really appreciate any help/guidance

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Does the restaurant have any doors opening into the residential common stair?

If not and the restaurant does have full 60 minutes separation it need not be linked (which is prefered as these premises often have either false alarms or partly/wholly disabled systems!)

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  • 1 month later...

First thank you for the conversation - nearly understand all the issues.

With a commercial activity being carried out on ground floor

Residential on first and second floor

60 minute compartmentation

No direct access in to the communal area for the flats from the commercial activity

Should the commercial fire detection and warning system - have a sounder located either in the communal area or the flats  but not connected to the systm for the communal area or the flats (or could be)

Thank you

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