FIRE ALARM AND DETECTION SYSTEMS IN THE
COMMON PARTS OF BLOCKS OF FLATS
Some Property Managers and Residents Associations quite regularly find it difficult to assess whether fire alarm and/or fire detection systems are required in the common parts of blocks of flats. The following information may assist in considering specific situations.
In 2007, Building Regulations Approved Document B was split into two sections.
Section 1 – Dwellings Section 2 – Non Dwellings
This was done to simplify those matters relevant to dwelling houses.
However flats are included in Section 2 and the common parts in blocks of flats (regarded as ‘workplaces’) are also included in Section 2.
As ‘workplaces’, the common parts of blocks of flats also come under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO)
Under the new Building Regulations, blocks of flats built in accordance with these current regulations should have compartmentation, smoke ventilation and sufficient protected routes, in combination with ‘stand alone’ smoke detection within each flat, such as not to require smoke detection or a fire alarm system in the common parts.
The emphasis is on the requirement that the building conforms to CURRENT Building Regulations.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2007 - (RRO)
As a ‘workplace’, the common parts of blocks of flats should have a means of raising the alarm in the event of a fire.
However, with buildings that conform to the current Building Regulations this is not deemed a necessity as the common parts should be clear of any flammable material and any fire would be expected to have started within a flat that has smoke detection to alert the flats occupants and sufficient compartmentation for a fire not to spread to other parts of the building and in particular the escape routes.
Under the RRO, it is a requirement for a risk assessment to be carried out for the common parts of blocks of flats (a ‘workplace’) by a competent person.
Should the building comply to and be maintained to comply with, current Building Regulations, the risk assessment could well find that there is no requirement for a means of detecting or raising the alarm in the event of a fire.
However, at the time of the assessment, should the common parts contain flammable materials, or the compartmentation and smoke ventilation system etc. be found to have been compromised in any way, the assessment may find that any such alterations are sufficient for a recommendation that smoke detection and/or a means of raising the alarm (or other fire prevention measures) be implemented.
In the common parts of blocks of flats that do not comply with current Building Regulations and where there is insufficient compartmentation, smoke ventilation etc. the assessment is very likely to recommend that a means of raising the alarm, smoke detection and/or other fire prevention measures are implemented.
It is therefore important for the risk assessment to be carried out by a competent person and for that risk assessment to analyse the overall existing fire prevention in the common parts allowing for the safety of any staff, contractors and visitors who would use those common parts. This must obviously include for the occupants of the flats.
Should there be any questions that you would like answered or if you require further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Story By : mjgm
Date : 09-09-2008