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Hi folks

A three storey block of flats that I visited last week had external balcony access to the flat front doors accessed by a communal stairway to one side of the building only. None of the flat front doors or windows were fire resistant. Due to only having one route of escape and residents that have to pass various other flats to get there, should the windows and doors be fire resistant?

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IMO all fire doors should be FD30s fire doors except the furthest door from the stairs and windows depending on the height of the cill from the floor, if it is less than 1.2 m then they should also be fire resistant.

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Whilst this should be subject to Fire Risk Assessment (hate saying that as it always sounds like a way of swerving the answer) but further guidance can be found at:

  • British Standard 9991 – Section 7.3
  • Approved Document B – Section 3.29
  • Local Government Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats – Section 59.5

The face of the building (excluding window openings) should provide at least 30mins fire resistance and window openings should not extend below a height of 1100 mm above the deck level.  Surface materials of the facing wall, balcony soffit and balustrade should be of Class 0 rating.  

The idea is that if fire escapes the flat through the window, occupants needing to pass by the flat can crawl beneath and hopefully escape.

If entrance to each flat is afforded via external balcony / deck approach  you need to check the width (less than 2m in width is fine).  There is a risk of smoke logging if the balcony / deck above is more than 2m.

The requirement is for the doors to be FD30 level (no mention of smoke) but as Tom says above, the Risk Assessment may indicate that smoke protection would be beneficial. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 years later...

In a six storey block of balcony access flats there is a stairwell at one end providing access to the upper floor levels.  There is a secondary means of escape from the flats along the balconies to a stairwell at the opposite end of the block.

However, before reaching the lobby door to the secondary stairwell, the balcony becomes a short corridor.  There is a flat and some service cupboards that open onto the corridor next to the lobby door to the stairwell.  So this corridor is effectively an extension of the balcony but is enclosed on all sides except being open to the atmosphere at one end.

As there is two directional escape from the flats located along the 'fully' open balcony, then fire rated construction is not required in that location.  However, does this section of corridor need to be fire rated? (i.e. including the flat and service cupboard doors).

I have come across many similar scenarios along these lines where flat entrance doors are located within partially-enclosed corridors/lobbies off open stairwells/access balconies. However, I have not come across any guidance indicating where fire rated construction is required/recommended (or not).    

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Guest Block flats with open deck


I have block flats over 5 floors, I would make corridor open to air by removing glass windows and replacing steel mesh for protection. so air flows from both sides if their is air flow like open dect do we need to put AOVs, Dampers and Fire penetration filers in the corridors....though side walls are insulated and rendered as external envelop. 

Advice is appricated 




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Guest Sas

Hi. I’m in a residential block where flat front doors at ground level are located externally. The width of the walkway to access these flats is 1.7m and a fence prevents this walkway being wider. The distance between flat front doors is also more than 1.7m. Do the flat doors need to be 30-minute fire doors? And where is the guidance in this. Thanks.

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