DB Fire Safety Ltd are involved in carrying out the fire risk assessment on a multi-storey building in Peterborough that’s recently been converted from offices into flats.
Fire safety design in new blocks of flats is governed
by the Building Regulations 2010. This legislation requires that landlords carry out fire risk assessments in all common areas of properties which will identify any fire hazards and who could be potentially at risk.
Blocks of flats differ from other residential dwellings in respect of fire risk assessments. Because there are more people living in a block of flats, they will experience more fires than people living in houses. However, a fire in a block of flats is no more dangerous than in a house. High rise, therefore, does not mean high risk.
• To keep fire risk to a minimum, it is just as important to prevent fires as to provide
measures to protect people when fire occurs.
• The most significant influences on fire risk are social and lifestyle factors and advanced
age, not the type of dwelling in which people live.
• All dwellings should have working smoke alarms.
• Very few people die as a result of a fire in a neighbour’s flat or the common parts. Nearly all
fire deaths occur in the flat in which fire starts.
• In blocks of flats, each flat is designed to be a fire-resisting ‘box’. It is important to maintain
the integrity of this compartment, particularly when building work and alterations take place.
• It is important to ensure that fires cannot start in the common parts or common facilities.
Given that most fires occur in domestic dwellings, it was recognised
that a block of flats as a building containing many such dwellings –
has the potential for a higher risk to people should a fire break out.
Accordingly, the fire safety standards that were developed to address
this risk sought to afford the same level of safety found in houses to
those living in blocks of flats.
At the very least you should ensure that there is an adequate means
of escape in case of fire, and landlords of shared and Houses in
Multiple Occupation (HMO) properties will have additional obligations,
both under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) and the
Housing Act 2004.
Just like employers, landlords have certain obligations when it comes
to fire safety and protection in their properties. However, it is not as
simple as ensuring there is a couple of fire extinguishers to hand – fire
safety largely depends on the potential risks and the different types of
buildings can cause confusion. For example, a building that is used for
a single tenancy will differ to one which is shared across commercial and residential lettings
This is the basis for the ‘stay put’ principle (discussed later in this guide): when a fire
occurs within one dwelling (or, less likely, in the common parts), it is normally safe for
other residents to remain within their own flat. This principle is undoubtedly successful
in an overwhelming number of fires in blocks of flats. In 2009-2010, of over 8,000 fires
in these blocks, only 22 fires necessitated evacuation of more than five people with the
assistance of the fire and rescue service5.
The assessment of risk from fire also needs to take social factors into account,
particularly in the case of accommodation provided specifically for certain highrisk
While escape within flats is based on similar principles to those for houses, reaching
ultimate safety relies on using the common parts.
• Most blocks of flats are designed on the ‘stay put’ principle. Although this relies on there
being effective compartmentation, it is a principle that should be adopted wherever
• Provided there is effective compartmentation and means of escape, ‘general needs’ blocks
of flats will not normally require a communal fire alarm system.
• Communal fire alarm systems should not be installed unless it can be demonstrated that
there is no other practicable way of ensuring an adequate level of safety. If such a system
is provided, it must be possible to manage it.
• However, it should not automatically be assumed that constructional standards will be
inadequate in the absence of evidence to that effect.
• Proposals to upgrade fire protection in an existing block should aim to ensure, or restore, a
satisfactory standard of compartmentation in order to maintain the original ‘stay put’ policy.
• More generally, application of current benchmark standards to an existing block of flats is
not normally appropriate.
• Certain developments in fire safety technology and practice (eg smoke alarms within flats)
should be adopted. However, other developments such as automatic suppression systems
will only be appropriate if the cost and effort of adopting them is proportionate to the risk.
Front doors to flats need to be fire-resisting and self-closing.
• Corridors leading to stairways need to be enclosed in fire-resisting construction.
• Where there is only escape in one direction along a corridor, the extent of travel in such
‘dead ends’ needs to be limited.
• Open decks and balconies need to be limited in extent if escape is only possible in one
direction, with fire-resisting construction to protect people passing other flats to reach a
• Stairways need to be enclosed in fire-resisting construction, with fire-resisting, selfclosing
• Any external stairways need to be suitably separated from the building by fire-resisting
construction and doors.
• Any areas, rooms or risers opening onto communal escape corridors and stairways
need to be fitted with fire-resisting doors that are self-closing or kept locked shut.
• Arrangements for maintaining stairways clear of smoke need to be provided (through
means such as openable windows and vents).
• Additional protection is needed where there is only a single stairway for normal access
and for egress in an emergency, normally comprising lobby approach and permanent
openings or automatically opening vents for clearing smoke.
16.11 Older people and people with certain disabilities may require particular consideration
David Black, the Managing Director of DB Fire Safety Ltd has been involved with this project from its outset, and says that now the building is ready for occupation.
For information on how DB Fire Safety Ltd can help with your fire risk assessment; call 0800 772 0559 OR
It’s been reported in the press recently that there are a “significant” number of dryers which were sold in the last 11 years in the UK that may need a “service” due to a fire risk fear.
Indesit have reported that excess fluff (lint) could come into contact with the heating element of the tumble dryer which could cause a fire. Indesit are now recalling all machines which were purchased between April 2004 and October 2015. Their advice is to continue using your machine but not to leave it unattended while in use.
Indesit will be contacting the owners of these machines to arrange a service call to modify the appliances. There will be no charge for this and it will take approximately one hour.
The advice from DB Fire Safety is to make sure you do the following:
- Clean lint filters prior to each use
- Ensure the dryer is well ventilated
- Don’t leave the dryer operating unattended.
Halloween costumes have been known to cash fire when in close proximity to candles or other heat sources.
Please make sure your children keep candles and matches well away from their costumes.
If you don’t believe it…..read the attached article. Please make sure you have a safe Halloween.
DB Fire Safety was ‘invited’ to carry out a fire risk assessment of a basement in an office block. We cannot name the building (obviously) but suffice it to say that there are 5 floors above the basement – all of which are under major reconstruction. On investigation, the basement had been converted into living accommodation for a large number of contractors working on the building.
Employers must realise and understand that they have a serious duty of care to ensure the safety of all their staff – regardless of their country of origin.
This basement was a disaster waiting to happen. There were no ‘full-height’ partition walls between bedrooms; no fire doors on bedrooms; no testing of the electrical fixed wiring; accepted use of portable electrical appliances that had not been tested. The list went on and on.
Fortunately the HSE and Fire Authority are now involved. If this was a standard HMO it would be shut down immediately.
With effect from the 1st October 2015, there will be new UK Fire Safety Legislation for Landlords. The new regulations will make it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in rented properties.
This legislation will mean that a smoke alarm must be fitted on each floor of the premises. For properties with a solid burning appliance there will be a requirement to fit a carbon monoxide detector.
It will be the responsibility of landlords to check that these alarms are fitted and working at the commencement of each tenancy. If they choose to disobey this new legislation and fail to comply, they will face the possibility of a penalty of up to £5,000.
It’s not all one way traffic though. Tenants will also be given some responsibility too. There will be a requirement for tenants to test the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on a weekly basis. Any faults must be reported to the landlord or agency.
It has been reported that people are at least four times more likely to die in a house fire if no smoke alarm has been fitted. Our hope is that this new legislation will make homes significantly safer for tenants.
Fire and Rescue Services from across the Country will be taking part in the UK Business Safety Week 2015. This important fire safety (and possibly life saving) event will run from the 7th September through to the 13th September 2015.
This year’s UK Business Safety Week will be managed by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), in partnership with, for instance, the Fire Industry Association (FIA), Fire Protection Association (FPA), BAFE and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA).
The central theme of this year’s UK Business Safety Week is to ‘Keep it SIMPLE and Safe’ The following are six fire safety SIMPLE reminders that can be shared with your employees within the work environment on, for example, noticeboards. The SIMPLE easy to remember points are as follows:
- Store stock safely: keep corridors, stairs and exits clear
- Identify alarm points so you can inform and warn others
- Make sure doors are closed to prevent fires from spreading
- Place things that catch fire away from things that cause fire
- Let someone know if you spot any fire safety problems
- Ensure everyone knows what to do if a fire alarm sounds
As a business owner and employee, share the SIMPLE message with your staff.
With Christmas just around the corner, you may be getting ready for the festive season by buying in new stock over and above which would normally be stored. Remember to store safely. You may also be recruiting new members of staff to help with the Christmas rush. Now should be the perfect opportunity to convey the SIMPLE message to make sure that everyone is fire safety aware to protect themselves, their colleagues, your customers and at the end of the day maybe your business.
Your local fire and rescue service can and want to help you protect your business from the risks of fire
For more information and the contact details of your local service, please visit www.cfoa.org.uk/frs.
DB Fire Safety specialises in providing fire safety training courses for staff working in residential care homes. This includes courses in general fire safety awareness as well as courses in fire evacuation procedures and specialist courses for fire wardens.
Some of the comments we get from those attending our courses are as follows:
“Explained very well and now more aware if the fire procedure”
“Now know how to use an extinguisher and would be more confident in the event of a fire”
“The training will develop my skills on future practice and I will not be panicking on a fire”
“Very useful and very well explained”
“Now more aware of what to do and how to proceed when there is a fire. Found the whole course very useful”
If you also would like to take advantage of our fire safety training courses then:
Call us on 0800 772 0559 OR
DB Fire Safety is proud to be involved with looking after fire protection measures and general fire safety at Midlands bus stations.
DB Fire Safety Limited is delighted to announce that our online fire safety training courses are now available. These can be purchased directly from our website and paid through our PayPal account.
The ability to carry out fire safety training online limits the need for staff to be removed from productive work. They can complete the course in their own time or during work breaks. This method also reduces the necessity to bring in a specialist trainer to provide a classroom presentation.
For further information simply go to our website: www.dbfiresafety.co.uk
OR PHONE: 0800 772 0559