Fire safety- do I really need all these thngs?

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  • Fire safety- do I really need all these thngs?

    Hi everyone,

    Far be it for me to question fire regulations and advice, for my 3 room (maybe 4) HMO with shared kitchen and living room, do I really need all of the following:

    - Smoke detectors, interlinked, mains wired in every room and each hallway
    - Except kitchen which requires a heat detector, mains wired
    - Emergency lights in all hallways and staircases
    - Alarm system tested/air intake grills ceaned monthly keeping written records (I guess I can claim for monthly visits as a tax deduction)
    - Control panel for fire protection system
    - Break glass point

    Oh, and the curcuit to use to be dedicated (segregated form all other circuits) by distance, conduit trunkin or cable type, and having a 72 hour battery back up.

    Mainaly my decorator is jus about to start, but if I need to dig new electric trunking across every room... I need a rehink

    If anyone can recomemnd a cost effective easy to use/install system (or part of a system) above it would be much appreciated?

    Many thanks

  • #2
    Sounds about right, mandarin.

    However, the smoke detection system and other fire precautions you mentioned would be risk based. Therefore to give an accurate answer would be impossible.

    I wouldn't do anything without consulting your relevant local authority as they will carry out a risk assessment of the property, occupants, any hazards present, etc. If you do this they council have to consult with the local fire service and agree a schedule of works for your property. The good thing about doing it that way is that you get a fire spec that is upto date and the relevant parties agree.

    Dont even think about the cost effective way, there isnt one! If you dont consult with the local authority, you may well be installing something that is no use and wasting your money.

    Dont forget the fire doors (if applicable), the 30 minute protected escape route and sealing the back of the door frames to the wall linings, no point in fitting a fire door if there is a gap between the wall and frame.

    Comment


    • #3
      Mandarin,

      Take a look at the LACORS guidance:

      http://www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/Cont....aspx?id=19843

      Case study D4 on page 41 looks as though it might be applicable to your property.

      Assuming that the property is two-storey, it would suggest that you would probably need a smoke detection system covering each floor level in the hallway and also a smoke detector in the living room, with a heat detector in the kitchen. They would need to be mains powered with a battery back-up and all linked together. The guidance suggests that you shouldn't need a system with break glass points or a control panel. As red40 suggests, it is based on risk, so you would have to look at the property individually.

      If it's two-storey, there probably won't be any requirement for emergency lights.

      Again, based on the guidance, if it's two-storey, there's no requirement for a 30 minute protected escape route, unless the construction standards are poor, travel distances are long, or there are other higher risk factors present. So long as the doors are 'sound, well constructed and close-fitting conventional doors' you shouldn't have to replace them.

      Have a look at the guidance, and see how it applies to your place.

      I hope this helps.

      Comment


      • #4
        Talk to your local authority. No other way. They all have different guidelines.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Telometer View Post
          Talk to your local authority. No other way. They all have different guidelines.
          The real point is that they shouldn't all have different guidelines. If a local authority is requiring standards which are different from those within the LACORS guide, then they would surely have to have good reasons for doing so.

          The LACORS guidance is published by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. It is forwarded by the Under Secretary of State with responsibility for housing and the Under Secretary of State with responsibility for fire safety. (Both positions within the Department for Communities and Local Government.)

          The guide also says:
          Gratitude is also owed to the following people who made up the project steering group and provided invaluable support for the project:
          Andrew Chadney, London Fire and Rescue Authority
          Andy Kippax, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
          Brian Martin, Communities and Local Government
          Elizabeth Brogan, National Landlords Association
          Neil Coles, London Borough of Newham
          Paul Dryden, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
          Richard Drew, Westminster City Council
          Richard Tacagni, LACORS
          Rhian Blackman, Communities and Local Government
          Tony Agar, London Fire and Rescue Authority

          It then gives a very long list of other groups and individuals who contributed to the consultation.

          In the light of this, if any local authority does use its own guidelines, rather than the HM Government approved LACORS guide, then they would surely have to have a very good justification for doing so.

          Some of the things mentioned in Mandarin's original post appear to be above and beyond what is required in the LACORS guide for a shared house housing 3 or 4 people. Why should that be?

          Comment


          • #6
            HMOs

            The regulations are being upped all the time; so in a nutshell even if the council might say its risk based now; for subsequent HMO licences it'll probably be mandatory.

            So if you're going to put any of this kit in, you may as well go the whole hog and do all the work to a high standard. Before too long blocks of flats will have to have centralised panel smoke alarm systems. Emergency lighting doesn't actually cost very much; about seventy eighty quid each, fitted.

            If you're going to be in the HMO business you've got to be prepared to invest in appropriate upgrading; smoke seals on the doors, self closing devices; the whole nine yards........

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by quarterday View Post
              The regulations are being upped all the time; so in a nutshell even if the council might say its risk based now; for subsequent HMO licences it'll probably be mandatory.
              The Housing Act 2004 and the sub-ordinate legislation would have to be amended for that change to happen.

              Originally posted by quarterday View Post
              So if you're going to put any of this kit in, you may as well go the whole hog and do all the work to a high standard. Before too long blocks of flats will have to have centralised panel smoke alarm systems. Emergency lighting doesn't actually cost very much; about seventy eighty quid each, fitted.
              If you want to put things in place that are not required and require ongoing professional maintenance where they're not necessary, then that is your choice. Of course, if they are necessary, then that's a different matter.

              Originally posted by quarterday View Post
              If you're going to be in the HMO business you've got to be prepared to invest in appropriate upgrading; smoke seals on the doors, self closing devices; the whole nine yards........
              Again, stuff that is not required in every circumstance. In fact, in some HMOs, smoke seals must not be fitted because they prevent the alarm going off when it is needed.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnny99 View Post
                Mandarin,

                Take a look at the LACORS guidance:

                http://www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/Cont....aspx?id=19843

                Case study D4 on page 41 looks as though it might be applicable to your property.

                Assuming that the property is two-storey, it would suggest that you would probably need a smoke detection system covering each floor level in the hallway and also a smoke detector in the living room, with a heat detector in the kitchen. They would need to be mains powered with a battery back-up and all linked together. The guidance suggests that you shouldn't need a system with break glass points or a control panel. As red40 suggests, it is based on risk, so you would have to look at the property individually.

                If it's two-storey, there probably won't be any requirement for emergency lights.

                Again, based on the guidance, if it's two-storey, there's no requirement for a 30 minute protected escape route, unless the construction standards are poor, travel distances are long, or there are other higher risk factors present. So long as the doors are 'sound, well constructed and close-fitting conventional doors' you shouldn't have to replace them.

                Have a look at the guidance, and see how it applies to your place.

                I hope this helps.
                Certainly does. And how much off all that can I install myself? A few detectors, cable and trunking to pretty it all up and leave ends adjacent to consumer unit spare bay for sparky to connect - or connect it myself. Or does sparky get it the kit at such a discount that the cost is much the same.

                I have to say that it all a complete load of b****cks. With dwellings getting inherently safer - furnishings, decrease in smoking/not allowed in lettings etc etc - yet the risk assessors must think houses are getting less safe. Still one cannot legislate against stupidity.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Telometer View Post
                  Talk to your local authority. No other way. They all have different guidelines.

                  I absolutely agree (well, I would, wouldn't I)

                  They should provide you with a schedule.

                  Not sure about fitting the fire system yourself - it needs doing to BS5839 and you need to be able to provide a certificate of design installation and commissioning - personally I'd get it done by an electrician.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The trouble is that your council decides what constitutes an HMO, what needs to be in place based on their rules and then decides whether or not to grant you a license. Without the license you can't legally let your property, so, they have you over a barrel.

                    You may well have to jump through hoops but you have no real alternative.

                    Also, far more fires do occur in HMOs than family homes - that's the real reason there are so many fire regs. As far as the councils are concerned, it's all about safety for the tenants, not how much it will cost you, the landlord, in time and money.

                    Once it's done you can bask in the knowledge that your tenants are probably safer in their home than you are in yours (unless you too are a renter!)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by colinstone View Post

                      I have to say that it all a complete load of b****cks. With dwellings getting inherently safer - furnishings, decrease in smoking/not allowed in lettings etc etc - yet the risk assessors must think houses are getting less safe. Still one cannot legislate against stupidity.
                      On the contrary. The legislation is designed to mitigate the effects of stupidity (among other things). It is stupid to smoke in bed - but people do it. It is stupid to leave chip pans/frying pans unattended - but people do it. It is stupid not to have working smoke alarms in every habitable room - but most tenants would not pay for them themselves. HMOs are by definition occupied by people who are unrelated to each other - may not even know each other - and who cannot be relied upon to look out for one another in an emergency, as a family might. Councils know that many LLs are more interested in profit than in safety, hence the regulations. If the fire safety legislation for HMOs saved only one life, would it not be worth it?

                      This is not about you and what is convenient to you as a LL. Please grow up.
                      'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                        On the contrary. The legislation is designed to mitigate the effects of stupidity (among other things). It is stupid to smoke in bed - but people do it. It is stupid to leave chip pans/frying pans unattended - but people do it. It is stupid not to have working smoke alarms in every habitable room - but most tenants would not pay for them themselves. HMOs are by definition occupied by people who are unrelated to each other - may not even know each other - and who cannot be relied upon to look out for one another in an emergency, as a family might. Councils know that many LLs are more interested in profit than in safety, hence the regulations. If the fire safety legislation for HMOs saved only one life, would it not be worth it?

                        This is not about you and what is convenient to you as a LL. Please grow up.
                        Well firstly, I'm not sure that personal insults, such as 'please grow up' add anything to a perfectly valid discussion. Secondly, I'm not sure that mind the gap's post is completely accurate.

                        It certainly may be stupid to smoke in bed, but often, the approved level of fire protection in an hmo is not there to protect the stupid person. It's there to protect the others in the property who are perhaps not so stupid. Perhaps people should be allowed to make choices in their own home, which may affect themselves, even if they are stupid choices and even if it is a rented home.

                        It is not stupid not to have smoke detectors in every habitable room. (Sorry about the double negative) In many circumstances, according to the LACORS fire safety guide, and the relevant British Standards, and Building Regulations, etc. it is perfectly acceptable not to have detection in every habitable room in every HMO, depending on the level of risk. (I certainly don't have detection in every habitable room in my house. Does that make me stupid?)

                        Mind the gap, you say that 'If the fire safety legislation for HMOs saved only one life, would it not be worth it?' That is a very great over-simplification and emotional response to what is a very big question.

                        I think you miss the point that everything is a balance between cost and effectiveness. It would be easy to legislate to say that every HMO property must be provided with 2 hr fire protection to every wall, door and ceiling in every HMO, and every HMO must be fitted with fire sprinklers and a complete all singing, all dancing system of fire detectors. There must be no chip pans and no tenant must ever smoke in an HMO. That would undoubtedly save lives, but at what cost to society and the economy generally?

                        The result of that would be that the number of rented places for people who cannot afford to buy their own property would decrease, more people would end up without a roof over their heads, with all the consequences that that would bring. As I said it's about striking a sensible balance, not about spending whatever amount of money in the hope that it will save one life.

                        Let's keep this in perspective, please.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by johnny99 View Post
                          Let's keep this in perspective, please.
                          Absolutely. If you look at OP's objections to fire safety precautions in his HMO, you will see that putting them in perspective was exactly what I was doing. His 'argument' against the regulations seemed to be that (i) they would cost him 'a fortune' and they were therefore excessive and unnecessary. It is a classic response for someone stuck in the egocentric stage, which is why I asked him to grow up. It wasn't an insult, so much as a suggestion/request.

                          Obviously, when it comes to fire safety measures, there has to be a balance, for practical reasons. I don't follow your 'drift' about stupidity (t drifted a bit too far for me to make head or tail of it), but I do not think we are too far apart, in the end. I would want to put as much space as possible between myself and OP, however and if I were a tenant, I would not want someone with that attitude to be my LL.

                          The number of properties available to rent woud be unlikely to decrease if more stringent fire safety regs were brought in - but it might just put off a few of the money-grubber LLs who see their rental properties as a cash cow and nothing else. Which wouldn't be a bad thing, now, would it?
                          'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                            Absolutely. If you look at OP's objections to fire safety precautions in his HMO, you will see that putting them in perspective was exactly what I was doing. His 'argument' against the regulations seemed to be that (i) they would cost him 'a fortune' and they were therefore excessive and unnecessary. It is a classic response for someone stuck in the egocentric stage, which is why I asked him to grow up. It wasn't an insult, so much as a suggestion/request.

                            Obviously, when it comes to fire safety measures, there has to be a balance, for practical reasons. I don't follow your 'drift' about stupidity (t drifted a bit too far for me to make head or tail of it), but I do not think we are too far apart, in the end. I would want to put as much space as possible between myself and OP, however and if I were a tenant, I would not want someone with that attitude to be my LL.

                            The number of properties available to rent woud be unlikely to decrease if more stringent fire safety regs were brought in - but it might just put off a few of the money-grubber LLs who see their rental properties as a cash cow and nothing else. Which wouldn't be a bad thing, now, would it?
                            I've thought long and hard about posting this reply, as I do not wish to enter any kind of slanging match with anyone. However, the idea that one individual can label another as 'someone stuck in the egocentric stage' and tell them to 'grow up' even if it is a 'suggestion' or a 'request' as a result of a couple of posts on a public forum is incredibly distasteful to me.

                            I am not 100% sure who it is that you are suggesting grows up. I thought initially that it was colinstone, but then as you refer to the OP (original poster, I presume that is.) it may be mandarin that is the subject of the 'grow up' request. Either way, they both have a perfect right to raise the issues that they have, in order to tap into the knowledge and experience of the contributors on this forum. The unfortunate truth is that many of us have experienced a local housing authority that is out of touch with the latest legislation and guidance, and as a result, they demand the provision of unnecessary and expensive requirements.

                            To ask a question regarding what is necessary to provide a reasonably safe environment for tenants without having to spend money unnecessarily is wholly justifiable. Anybody should feel free to raise such questions without fear of it resulting in, what I still consider to be, a personal insult.

                            I think perhaps that's a good place for me to leave it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I did not say that OP (colinstone) was stuck in the egocentric stage, only that his comment was typical of someone who was. That is not the same thing.

                              I can only reiterate that the request to 'grow up' was not intended as an insult. It was about adopting a maturer and less profit-driven approach to fire safety in rented property. You are obviously looking at what has been said from a different angle from me , so I agree it is perhaps best left at that.
                              'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                              Comment

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