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Warehouse offices storage under the stairs


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I am a member of the institute of fire safety managers but I certainly do not profess to know it all, far from it hence me signing up to this excellent website which I have just only found.

I was after an opinion on a scenario that I came across while reviewing a Fire Risk Assessment in one of our Warehouses. It's quite difficult to describe the building without photos, but in essence there is a prefabricated upstairs office (Within the warehouse kind of like an inner room) which has a wooden stairwell which is its only access.As you go up the wooden stairs you hit a T junction where you can go left or right , the office is open planned and extends 10M in either direction. What I was uncomfortable with is that  there is a storage room under the stairs where the maintenance man stores electric power tools , paints, little work bench., this room under the stairs does have automatic fire detection, so if something was to go on fire providing the alarm system works then people would evacuate the office space in time. Providing there is a good culture of fire safety and regular fire drills / maintenance of alarm systems etc..Is this acceptable place for storage and small works (providing no hotwork takes place), I'm no expert but the stairs give me the impression that if a fire started in that room (which is unlikely) those stairs would be ablaze within 5 minutes.

My head says although it maybe acceptable due to the fire prevention / detection it doesn't seem good practice - I was considering asking them to move the storage and small workshop to another location.

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It would be normal practice to protect the stair by underdrawing it to 30 minutes fire resistance using plasterboard or glass reinforced plasterboard of the required thickness (usually 12.5mm, the British Gypsum White Book gives suitable detail).

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