Listed building - how do deal with requirements for fire doors

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    Listed building - how do deal with requirements for fire doors

    I am intending to create an HMO in a listed building. Both the exterior and interior of the building are listed.

    It still has most of its original internal doors (dating from the 1790s), and I have been professionally advised that I am very unlikely to be granted listed building consent to replace them with modern fire doors. However, the house is four storeys meaning that an HMO fire risk assessment would typically require all internal doors to be fire doors. Does anyone have any ideas about how I might square this circle?

    (In case anyone is wondering why I am wanting to embark on such a seemingly-hopeless project, this house is in a location where there would be very little demand for a family house, and I would be even less likely to get listed building consent for the considerable changes to the interior which would be required to convert it into flats. As such, turning it into an HMO seems the only sensible option).

    #2
    Have a chat with your local Fire Station, I popped down to see mine the other day and they were so helpful..in the afternoon two fire officers arrived and took a good look around the property advising me on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detection, fire separation between flats, doors and not to put washing machines and dryers on at night or not leave unattended. They are against candles as cause the most fires. All for free and they have a team of compliance people to ask if you need further help. Try your council heritage officer they can have good ideas as well. Good luck with that.

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      #3
      You do seem to be sure, but have you actually checked that it is a listed building?

      You can check if it actually is a listed building by putting the postcode in here, or using the map:
      https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/

      Or is it in a conservation area and so the council are just saying that it's listed?

      We have that situation in the property that I am currently renting (Orignally built in 1604).
      In any dealings with the council they say that all the buildings on our square are 'listed', so you can't make changes.
      They repeatedly tell this to residents/owners who want to fit new windows, doors, etc.

      Of course when you double check what they are saying then you find that they are not listed at all, merely in a council declared conservation area which is a different thing.
      (Although one of the buildings is indeed Grade II listed).

      Conservation areas are generally to protect the exterior appearance of the area, not the interior of the buildings.
      https://historicengland.org.uk/advic...ervation-area/

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        #4
        Originally posted by nukecad View Post
        You do seem to be sure, but have you actually checked that it is a listed building?
        Yes, I'm sure. It's a Grade 2 listed building. I've already seen the listing page on Historic England (which is how I know both the interior and exterior are listed).

        My real fear is that I apply for an HMO licence, and the HMO people then say "you have to have fire doors", but then the heritage person at the council says "you can't have fire doors". I then go back to the HMO people to pass on what the heritage person says, and they just say "OK, in that case you're not getting an HMO licence, you have to use it as a family house".

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          #5
          You used to be able to modify panel doors with Asbestolux to make them compliant. Not sure if that is still allowed by Elf'n'Safety and Conservation Officers.

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            #6
            You need a professional fire safety consultant,a not just one of those who have recently become an FRA mill. You need someone who really understands fires, and isn't just working from their course notes. There used to be a forum where such people congregated, but the one I think it is seems to require registration now, before even showing sample postings. You basically need the sort of person that gets called in after a major disaster.

            Also, I remember reading a paper on fire safety in such buildings, e.g Royal palaces, and I suspect that it is amongst the results returned by "fire safety english heritage" on Google.

            If it can be done, it is likely to involve specialist techniques, to compensate.

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              #7
              Firstly, anything can be achieved if you are prepared to spend lots of money, There are a a few products available that can be used to upgrade existing doors

              https://envirograf.com/product-category/fire-doors/

              Also, West Yorkshire Fire Service produce a useful note

              http://www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/uplo...Resistance.pdf

              Some enforcing authorities may except the use of sprinklers.

              But it ultimately comes down to two things

              1. 'will the doors last long enough for everybody to exit the building?' I've seen 30mm thick oak doors in listed hotels. The hotel provided an enhanced fire alarm system to compensate.

              2. Will the local council have the fire safety expertise to understand any solution that isn't listed in their manual. .

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                #8
                Thank you for the further advice to JK0 and leaseholder64.

                I suppose my fear remains that the conservation officer won't let me do what's required to satisfy the HMO licensing officer, and therefore I never get a licence. I think getting advice from the HMO licensing people might be the first step.

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                  #9
                  The HMO people are unlikely to know about alternative means of meeting fire safety requirements. They will probably require an expert report with a proposed solution.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
                    The HMO people are unlikely to know about alternative means of meeting fire safety requirements. They will probably require an expert report with a proposed solution.
                    Thank you. I will get in touch with the council's HMO department to fully ascertain their requirements in terms of what report they might need, and then try to find a genuine fire expert (as opposed to a run-of-the-mill risk assessor) as you suggest.

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