Fire door regulations in flats
A large proportion of the population now live in flats, or apartments. If you are a landlord, or building owner, you will no doubt be aware of the regulations regarding Health and Safety within these buildings. The Local Housing Authorities, whose responsibility it is to enforce these regulations, work to guidelines laid out in the HHSRS – the House Health and Safety Rating System.
Here are some of the recommended guidelines that should be considered in regard to the Fire Safety aspects:
Principles of fire safety
Prevention is better than cure
Prevent fire from breaking out in the first place! It is advisable to furnish tenants with some basic guidelines on fire prevention – for example, don’t leave cooking unattended, don’t overload electrical point/plugs, ensure any candles, or naked flames, are properly extinguished at the end of use, and other such advice.
Each individual flat should act as its own ‘fire box’ – any fire that breaks out within the flat should never spread beyond, or outside, of it. Any gaps, such as pipes passing through perimeter walls, need to be ‘fire stopped’ to maintain the compartmentalisation integrity.
Working smoke alarms
A smoke alarm is only of any use if it is in proper working order. Each flat should have a working fire alarm – it may only need to be a ‘stand-alone’ alarm, audible within the circulation area of the flat itself – it doesn’t have to be interlinked with any other alarm system. Ideally, it should be run from the mains and have a battery ‘back-up’, but battery-alone operated alarms are acceptable, if certified as ‘tamper proof’ and have at least 5 years battery power. All fire alarms should be regularly tested.
The front door of every individual flat needs to be a tested, and certified, fire door. They should be fitted with the appropriate intumescent strips, smoke seals and a self-closing mechanism. The minimum requirement is for an FD30 door to be fitted, providing 30 minutes fire resistance. It is important that the self-closing mechanism is never removed or disabled for any reason. Tenants should also be made aware of the dangers of wedging open fire doors – this should not be done in any circumstances!
Any physical work, or alterations, carried out must maintain the integrity of the safety features and ensure that the compartmentalisation aspects are protected and adhered to.
All building regulations in regard to fire safety must be adhered to – these include having all internal hallways within the individual flat, being 30 minutes fire resistant, with fire doors, fitted with smoke seals and intumescent strips, installed in each room. Unlike the front door, internal doors do not need to be fitted with self-closers, though it is advisable.
It is worth noting that, dependent upon the size and layout of the individual flat, there may be requirements for a more extensive fire alarm system. For example, there may be instances where there is a considerable ‘travel distance’ to access the front door, or a particularly complex room / passageway layout to negotiate to reach the safety exits.