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Mixed-dwelling building

Sue W

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My daughter and her partner are about to rent a flat above a cafe. The only entrance/exit is via a staircase that runs along side the cafe kitchen but is divided by a full brick wall and a doorway at the bottom of the stairs which leads into the cafe kitchen, and a separate doorway that leads to an outside area. There is a door at the top of the stairway which is the entrance to the flat - I have yet to ascertain if this is a fire door. There are plenty of smoke detectors and a CO2 detector present in the flat. My concern is that, there is no apparent escape route in case of a fire below in the cafe. There are windows that open wide enough for a person to climb through but they do not lead on to anywhere that provides a standing surface. There is no rope ladder provided.

Should there be an escape route provided, by means of a rope ladder?

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The exit route to the final exit door should be a protected route, so the staircase from the front door of the flat to the final exit should achieve a 30 minutes fire resisting standard and the door into the cafe kitchen should be a FD30s fire door, the final exit door to fresh air from the staircase does not need to be FR.

All habitable rooms should have an emergency egress window which is an openable window of a certain size check out Approved Document B (fire Safety) volume 2: Premises other than Dwelling Houses paragraph 2.9, which says the persons escaping should be able to get to a a place free from danger. But nowhere that I am aware of does it say how to achieve this, you could be rescued by ladder provided by passers by or Fire Service, you could provide certain self rescue devices or hanging from your fingertips and dropping to the floor which is not ruled out, however for me I would only consider it a last resort. 

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Thank you Tom for your response. I will read the document and check the size of the windows. Am I right in assuming that the entrance door to the

flat itself (at the top of the internal staircase)) needs to be a FD30 fire door?

I have asked the letting agency if we can see a copy of the current Fire Risk Assessment for the building. They have advised

that one is not required for the flat (not a direct answer to my question, as I referred to the building) and that there are sufficient

smoke alarms etc.

I have read a lot about 'Fire Separation' of the floors between commercial use properties and above dwellings, but I'm unsure if this only

applies to newly built properties and not existing ones. Could you advise me at all on that matter please? I very much appreciate any advice.


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I cannot give definitive answers without physically seeing the situation myself but it is useful to know the kind of things a FR assessor would be looking for.

Because the staircase enclosure has access from the cafe and the flat it could be claimed that it is a common area and any access a common area has to have protection from heat/smoke, therefore to be ideal, the door to the flat should be  FD30s fire door.

The letting agency is correct the flat is not subject to the fire safety order only the common area and the commercial premises, which includes the staircase enclosure. The FRA is the responsibility of the Responsible Person (check FSO) and he/she not required to share it with any other person. 

The floors should be to a fire resisting standard and will be considered when the FRA is conducted.

Check out The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

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