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Whether to connect basement flat detectors with Grade A system in main building

Kevin S

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Dear Mr Sutton / any other experts

I would be very grateful for your thoughts on an issue that does not seem to be covered by LACORS or other published guidance - whether the fire detectors in a separate basement flat should be connected to the fire alarm system in the main house above it so that people in each part of the building are alerted if there is a fire in the other part.

I am the landlord for a large Victorian house that I have recently bought which is split into seven self-contained flats. Six of the flats are accessed from the main external door via a common stairwell serving three storeys. The stairwell has a Grade A alarm system with detectors, sounders and call points. The flats coming off the stairwell have unlinked battery-powered smoke detectors. However the seventh flat is in the basement and is accessed by its own, separate external door. This basement flat has battery-powered smoke detectors that are not linked in any way to the rest of the building.

My concern is that if there was a fire in the basement flat, tenants in the flats in the main house above it would probably not hear the alarms in the basement. Similarly, if there was a fire in the main part of the house (whether in the common stairwell or one of the flats), tenants in the basement would probably not hear the alarms.

I understand that LACORS guidance regarding the flats in the main part of the house is to extend the Grade A alarm system currently limited to the stairwell into the entrance hallway of each flat with a heat detector, but not to have the smoke alarms in each flat connected up (because this would risk too many whole-building false alarms).

However I am not clear what to do about the basement flat. Should I link it to the Grade A system in the main house so that a fire in the basement would set off the stairwell system in the storeys above it, and vica versa? Or should this be avoided for the same reason for avoiding interlinked alarms in the flats above, i.e. the risk of too many false alarms meaning that people cease to treat the sounders seriously?

Many thanks in advance for your advice.


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Depends on the fire separation, if it was all correctly underdrawn during the conversion to compartment the basement from the rest of the building to a suitable level of fire resistance then you may not need to link it. If you do, then if there is at least a notional fire resistance you could avoid the false alarm risk by installing heats off the common system in the basement to provide the warning to the flats about and leaving the pt 6 smokes down there self contained for the life safety of that flat only.

If it's no FR of any reliable sort then the first thing to try is to upgrade it, as a last resort (due to false alarm risk) you may need smokes linked to the common system (on the basis heats would be too slow if there is no FR)

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