Fire Risk Assessment for Flats?
The landlord or property management agent has a duty of care for the fire safety within blocks of flats and are required to carry out a fire risk assessment of all communal areas of the building.
This is normally achieved by what is called a Type 1 fire risk assessment in which a full assessment of the communal areas, a sample of at least one of the flats and all related fire safety measures & equipment are considered.
Means of escape
The objective of the escape route is to allow residents to travel along them to a place of total safety without been affected by smoke & toxic gases in which the following design principles but not limited to would normally be implemented within a block of flats:
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.
Stairways need to be enclosed in fire-resisting construction, with fire-resisting, self closing doors.
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).
By making each flat a fire resisting compartment you are achieving a level of fire separation that will limit the spread of fire throughout the flats with the idea being any fire starting should be contained to that area.
There are many components to effective compartmentation all of which should be considered including:
Openings in Walls & Ceilings
The evacuation policy depends largely on the level of compartmentation and how effective it is.
Within purpose built flats the fire separation should be if sufficient quality to implement a stay put policy where the tenant of the flat that the fire occurs leaves, closes the door behind them and summons the fire service.
All other residents should in theory be safe within their flats unless otherwise directed by the fire service.
This does not mean you have to stay in your flat if you do not feel safe but if escape routes are for whatever reason not passible you should be safe within your flat.
The alternative is simultaneous evacuation where on the sounding of the fire alarm all residents will leave the building and wait for the all clear from the fire service.
If compartmentation cannot be proved or is deemed inadequate after an inspection simultaneous evacuation should be implemented regardless.
Fire Detection Systems
In purpose built flats you will not normally find a Grade A automatic fire alarm system where the stay put policy is in place with in individual dwellings been fitted with smoke & heat detectors.
You may find an automatic system fitted that operates a smoke control system and also where it is deemed the compartmentation cannot be proved or is inadequate but other than that it is unlikely one will be installed within the block of flats.
The above is a brief overview of what you should expect within a purpose built block of flats but there may be other areas to consider such as smoke control systems but everything that should be included for the size of your premises should all be listed within the fire risk assessment.
For more information on fire safety within purpose built blocks of flats the LGA guide on fire safety can be downloaded below: