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Fire Detection in Flat


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Hi all,

I'm trying to clarify what is a landlord's legal requirement in regard to fire detection. I've been reading various pieces of legislation, but it seems like I'm only getting more confused, hence why I thought it might be better ask in the forum.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulation 2015 states that there should be smoke detectors on every story and a carbon monoxide alarm where there is a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.  

Approved Document B says the following:

"All dwellings should have a fire detection and alarm system, minimum Grade D2 Category LD3
standard, in accordance with the relevant recommendations of BS 5839-6.
A higher standard of protection should be considered where occupants of a proposed dwelling
would be at special risk from fire. Further advice on this is also given in BS 5839-6.
1.2 Smoke alarms should be mains operated and conform to BS EN 14604.
1.3 Heat alarms should be mains operated and conform to BS 5446-2.
1.4 Smoke and heat alarms should have a standby power supply, such as a battery (rechargeable
or non-rechargeable)"

So technically, any flat should have mains operated smoke and heat detectors which will have standby power supply. Or in other words, detectors in a flat shouldn't be battery operated as is commonly the case?

If I'm asking all those questions, it's because I'm wondering when should fire detection be increased in a domestic flat. In most flat, you can get away with having a smoke detector in the hallway, a heat detector in the kitchen and a CO alarm.  But if you're dealing with a vulnerable tenant, would there be a point to let's say install smoke detectors in every room except bathroom and toilets (LD1 coverage)? By the way, if there's a document specially for vulnerable tenants do let me know.

The thing is reading the summary of BS 5839-6 on safelincs, it seems to me that the recommendation is that rented flats should have Grade D1 LD2 in place at least. But in general flats have alarms only in the kitchen and hallway and often they are battery-operated.

Obviously, from what I understand, BS standard are not legally binding. However, they may be used in a court of law to settle a dispute. Therefore, it allows for some leeway. By the way, for me LD2 means detectors should be installed in circulation space and high risk areas. If we're talking about a two-bedroom flat.  Would you consider that the living room is a high risk area? I'm asking as until now, for me high-risk area was the kitchen. However, it seems that the living room is also considered high-risk.

In regards to carbon monoxide alarm, the regulation in England says that a CO alarm is required if solid fuel burning appliances are used. So, technically, if you use a gas cooker, having a CO fitted isn't a requirement if all you have in your home is a gas cooker. However, I understand that generally speaking it is recommended to have a CO alarm whenever gas is used in a flat.

However, what if gas is still operating in the flat, but your kitchen equipment is powered by electricity, would a CO still be recommended in such a case?

 

Thank you all for your help.

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Building Regulations only apply to new or altered buildings, so only flats & houses built after 1991 or older ones altered such that building regulations apply (a full rewire being the usual trigger in older dwellings) would be expected to have Grade D1/2 smoke & heat alarms.

In older premises it was mostly voluntary until the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came in - these do not specify a minimum grade of equipment so Grade F1/2 equipment (battery only) is still legal (To avoid the expense and disruption and encourage rapid compliance they chose this route)

In Scotland things are far more strict, even in single private dwellings, although the compliance deadline has been extended due to COVID.

It's different again in HMO's and shared houses....

  

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On 01/02/2021 at 18:49, AnthonyB said:

Building Regulations only apply to new or altered buildings, so only flats & houses built after 1991 or older ones altered such that building regulations apply (a full rewire being the usual trigger in older dwellings) would be expected to have Grade D1/2 smoke & heat alarms.

In older premises it was mostly voluntary until the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came in - these do not specify a minimum grade of equipment so Grade F1/2 equipment (battery only) is still legal (To avoid the expense and disruption and encourage rapid compliance they chose this route)

In Scotland things are far more strict, even in single private dwellings, although the compliance deadline has been extended due to COVID.

It's different again in HMO's and shared houses....

  

I had replied to you but either the post was deleted or I deleted it by mistake. But thank you for getting back to me! You clarified a lot of things. I just had a few more questions:

1) Is a carbon monoxide necessary in a flat that may have gas but the tenant only uses electrical equipment (e.g. electric cooker)?

2) Is interlinked detectors a criteria of LD2? Also, is a living room of a flat considered high risk? Until now, I didn't consider living room high-risk until it was pointed out to me that it was in fact high risk and was part of LD2?

4) Are there any differences between hardwired detectors and wireless mains detectors? Is one better than the other or they're about the same?

5) Maybe a silly question, but is there a difference between tamper-proof and battery backup that lasts the lifetime of the detector in reference to Grade D1? My understanding was that if a battery backup lasted the lifetime of a detector than by definition, it was tamper-proof. But maybe I got this wrong.

3) Do you recommend any handbook/ resources to get a good handle of fire safety in domestic building?

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2) LD2 – A system incorporating detectors in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the premises, and in all rooms or areas that present a high risk of fire to occupants.

 

It doesn't say they must be interlinked, but as they will be mains powered it seems silly not to interlink them.

 

4) In simple terms, wireless smoke alarms are wired smoke alarms with a transceiver built in to make it wireless, but they still need to be mains powered.

Wired smoke alarms cost less than wireless alarms.

 

5) I would guess it is sold as tamperproof because there is no battery compartment to open to change the battery.

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On 02/02/2021 at 20:55, Carla Wynker said:

I had replied to you but either the post was deleted or I deleted it by mistake. But thank you for getting back to me! You clarified a lot of things. I just had a few more questions:

1) Is a carbon monoxide necessary in a flat that may have gas but the tenant only uses electrical equipment (e.g. electric cooker)? Whilst not legally so (yet) in England it really ought to be installed, the requirement being limited to solid fuels seems a bit of a fudge as a concession to landlords representative bodies. 

2) Is interlinked detectors a criteria of LD2? Also, is a living room of a flat considered high risk? Until now, I didn't consider living room high-risk until it was pointed out to me that it was in fact high risk and was part of LD2? In all Categories they should be interlinked: "In the case of Grade D and Grade F systems, where more than one smoke alarm is installed, the smoke alarms normally need to be interlinked [see 13.2c)]. Any heat alarms also need to be interlinked with the smoke alarms."

4) Are there any differences between hardwired detectors and wireless mains detectors? Is one better than the other or they're about the same? Wired detectors have a cheaper per point purchase price, but there is the cost of installation with cabling, labour and redecoration on top. Wireless are more expensive per point but have no added costs for cabling and less damage/disruption and are gradually becoming the default for dwellings.

5) Maybe a silly question, but is there a difference between tamper-proof and battery backup that lasts the lifetime of the detector in reference to Grade D1? My understanding was that if a battery backup lasted the lifetime of a detector than by definition, it was tamper-proof. But maybe I got this wrong. If it uses a 10 year battery sealed into the unit that the user cannot remove as oppose to a capacitor or other cell it's still tamperproof (D1/F1). If the user can remove the battery regardless of life then it's not tamper proof (D2/F2)

3) Do you recommend any handbook/ resources to get a good handle of fire safety in domestic building? The LGA Guide for Fire Safety in Purpose Built flats is good for flats as it does include guidance on the Housing Act requirements inside the flat as well as the content on Communal areas covered by the Fire Safety Order, it is currently under revision to reflect the forthcoming changes to be imposed by the Fire Safety Bill; LACORS Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing is of use to all sorts of private dwelling as well as houses converted to flats and HMO's, however it's very old and some references are out of date, it too is under revision; Finally the NFCC Guide to fire safety in Specialised Housing covers sheltered housing, supported living etc;

All are linked from https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fire-safety-law-and-guidance-documents-for-business

 

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