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Guest Keziah

fire in block of flats

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Guest Keziah

Hi, we had a fire in our block of flats last night and are now confused as to the regulations that are/are not being followed. Would anyone be able to help guide us? 

Our flat (and three others) is in a corridor with fire doors either side. There are no fire alarms within this corridor. On either side is another corridor with more flats, and fire alarms and automatic windows that are supposed to open when these alarms go off. Everyone has a fire detector inside their flat. Yesterday a fire started in our part of the hallway. The only alarm that went off was the flat whose door was right next to the fire. I heard this alarm but it wasn't loud, more like the sound the dishwasher/washing machine makes when it is done. I got up and smelt something, like burnt toast. After a bit of searching around, I opened my flat door to complete smoke. I couldn't see a foot in front of my face. The firemen and police were called, the fire was put out and thankfully nobody was hurt. 

However, we are concerned about our safety. We have spoken to the management company, who say the fire alarms aren't supposed to go off at all, just open the windows. This didn't happen, and the firemen said this could cause a fire to spread further due to increase of oxygen. There was enough smoke in the other sections of the corridor for the alarms to have gone off, but they didn't. The safety lights didn't work either as I couldn't see them at all. 

Have they not got a legal obligation to put fire alarms in our part of the corridor? Or at least have alarms that go off? If nobody had been in the firemen said the fire would have certainly spread. There is also a nursery downstairs, so I am concerned that if a fire did spread it could be a horrific disaster. We have CCTV outside but the management company have said they probably don't have the time to go through it to find out who started it, despite the fact the firemen have ruled it arson with the intent to harm. We are in the UK, by the way.

We have no idea what our rights are, and it was so terrifying that none of us can sleep easy now knowing our flats have no fire protection. The management company do not seem to care, despite the fact the firemen were appalled at the lack of safety. 

Any advice would be appreciated. 

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If it's correctly built to Building Regulations (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/441669/BR_PDF_AD_B2_2013.pdf) then it will not have a common fire alarm, only automatic opening vents to the stair and some or all (depending) of the corridor is required.

Also if the premises are built to Building Regulations the fire would not have entered the flats.

All a common alarm would have done is brought you out of your flat into the burning smoke logged corridor where you could have died (& others have in similar circumstances where there was an alarm and an arson attack in the common space) when actually the safest place to be was in the flat behind a 60 minute fire resistant wall and two 30 minute fire doors.

If the premises are so concerning you should contact the Technical Fire Safety/Fire Safety Enforcement office of your Fire & Rescue Service (usually listed under the Business Fire Safety section of their website as it's commercial premises legislation that covers the common parts of flats) who will then audit the premises and can take action as required.

Emergency lighting is intended for power failure, your normal lighting would be better & brighter if not affected by fire

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