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Topic Title: Fire alarms in common areas of flats
Topic Summary: minimum requirements.
Created On: 21 June 2011 10:23 AM
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 21 June 2011 10:23 AM
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tattyinengland

Posts: 782
Joined: 23 November 2006

Hi All

I have two properties where fire alarms and emergency lighting are being requested to be installed.

Each of these properties have 3 and 4 flats respectively and the common area is really tiny; one flight of stairs and a landing.

Each of the flats has smoke alarms in them already.

Is it sufficient to install smokies only in the common areas?
Will these smokies need to be linked with the smokies inside the flats?

I have BS5839; all of it, (there's a shed load of information) - I would like some direction though on minimum requirements, type of property etc.

It would be very much appreciated.

Cheers.
 21 June 2011 10:34 AM
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OMS

Posts: 19528
Joined: 23 March 2004

Usually there is nothing in the common parts as (subject to how the flats were constructed ) there is usually a defend in place policy.

BS 5839 - Part 6 in the flats and emergency lighting in the common parts is usual

If you think about it, who is going to respond to sounders in the stairwell - equally if you have detection with no alarm then what's the point.

May I suggest you take a look at this - it provides excellent advice and explains the thinking in detail.

Of course, if another party has already undertaken a FRA it may well be that the detection is trying to compensate for inadequate compartmentation - but I doubt it somehow

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 21 June 2011 10:38 AM
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tattyinengland

Posts: 782
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Thanks OHMS. This has come about due to a FRA. I think that the freehold agents are just being ***** because there is a big dispute between the leaseholders and how much the freeholders are charging and the leaseholders have applied for self governing duties.

The freehold agents are charging each flat £600 per year ground rent! (I pay £10)
 21 June 2011 10:52 AM
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OMS

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Well, as I said - I would read the document I linked to and then challenge the FRA if that's in your best interest to do so.

Personally speaking, I would be pretty ***** off if my neighbour burnt the cakes and tipped the whole block out onto the pavement ar 2.00 am - particularly if I was sitting in my own compartment with a sterile escape route outside my door - and particularly so if some half assed surveyor didn't actually have a clue about fire engineering and I was paying an increased management charge for the distaurbance anyway

Regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 21 June 2011 12:14 PM
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lyledunn

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THE FRA should form the basis of any design so obviously you need to be confident about its integrity. Such installations are a thorny issue and it is difficult to cover all bases. However, certain Licencing Authorities will require that the common areas are fully covered with Part 1 ASDs with a HD immediately behind the entrance door of each flat. This would obviously mean that an appropriate alert signal would need to be available in each flat and at each bedhead in the flat. There is enormous debate about the sound levels required but it might be reasonable to insist on the current 5839-1 minimum of 75dbA. Each individual flat would then have its own stand-alone Part 6.


-------------------------
Regards,

Lyle Dunn
 21 June 2011 12:26 PM
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rocknroll

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We do have guides available for you landlords, hard copies can be purchased or guess what all landlords like to hear its FREE to download;

http://www.communities.gov.uk/...safety/firesafetylaw/

The one that you require is;

'sleeping accomodation'

http://www.communities.gov.uk/.../fire/firesafetyrisk4

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
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"Oh! The drama of it all."
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"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
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 21 June 2011 12:52 PM
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OMS

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There is enormous debate about the sound levels required but it might be reasonable to insist on the current 5839-1 minimum of 75dbA. Each individual flat would then have its own stand-alone Part 6.


Or it could be argued that a sensible sound level would be say 81dBA at an open bedroom door.

Either way, there are a number of issues like commonality of the Part 1 and Part 6 sytems sounder tones etc

regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 21 June 2011 05:54 PM
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lyledunn

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Or it could be argued that a sensible sound level would be say 81d
BA at an open bedroom door.

That point is indeed often argued but it is often countered that the bedroom door referred to if shut and if a fire door could attenuate sound levels by 40dbA or more. Hence many prefer the 75 figure. This is why a suitable and sufficient RA is essential.

-------------------------
Regards,

Lyle Dunn
 21 June 2011 06:11 PM
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OMS

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Indeed Lyle - but if the bedroom door is shut and does actually attenuate by 40dBA then where does that leave the Part 6 system in the flat lobby.

Essentially that's why interfacing between the common parts and the flats causes so many problems - which leads us back to what's the point of AFD in common parts if it doesn't alert residents and from there to what's the difference between simple blocks of flats with good compartmentation and a row of terraced houses.

I think the key problem is that the current crop of fire risk assessors seem fixated on AFD in common areas of flats but have no idea of how it will work in practice

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Failure is always an option
 22 June 2011 04:14 AM
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tattyinengland

Posts: 782
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Thank you for all the replies; I've got plenty to go through there! It seems to be rather a fuss for a single stair on story high and landing - these flats are only 10 years old at the most so I assume they are all fire safe?


Thank you again.
 22 June 2011 07:36 PM
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sparkingchip

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I have a brand new block of four flats to do, starting this week, two have their own front doors whilst two share a front door and lobby. I am not planning a landlords supply so I will put a emergency light over each of the inner front doors with a push time lag switch wired separately to each flats own supply, so when the tenant comes in or out they can press their own switch and if one or both supplies fail one or both emergency lights will kick in. However I'm not planning a alarm in the lobby.

Last flats I did for this customer the Building Inspector said I had put in more alarms than required within the flats, so that part of the installation was fine and only emergency lights were needed in the communal area, so that was fine as well.

Andy
 18 January 2012 05:12 PM
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davebarman

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We are just in the thro's of installing a Aico 161 series of mains operated battery backup smoke detectors in a common area of a small block of flats where the designer has opted to fit a heat detector in each of the flats (4 in total) from off the common (landlord) area and supply. Each flat have their own system of Aico smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors already fitted.

What of having two separate supplies in a dwelling ? and isolation of the landlord unit, or would signage suffice, or even necessary.

Dave.

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Never knock on Death's door. Ring the doorbell and run like hell, he hates that!
 27 April 2014 05:07 PM
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davebarman

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Golly was it something I said!! Or the body odour

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Never knock on Death's door. Ring the doorbell and run like hell, he hates that!
 27 April 2014 08:29 PM
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mantutu

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Originally posted by: davebarman

We are just in the thro's of installing a Aico 161 series of mains operated battery backup smoke detectors in a common area of a small block of flats where the designer has opted to fit a heat detector in each of the flats (4 in total) from off the common (landlord) area and supply. Each flat have their own system of Aico smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors already fitted.



What of having two separate supplies in a dwelling ? and isolation of the landlord unit, or would signage suffice, or even necessary.



Dave.


Most alarms I have fitted require a fire panel, subsequent wiring into each flat has been 12v, so I see no need or requirement for separate isolation.
The system you describe is suitable for a one off domestic installation but in no way could fulfil the requirements of a commercial enterprise.
Common problems encountered in shared accommodation is false alarms evacuating the whole building, this is over come by installing heat detectors in preference to smoke detectors in flats. However common points for raising an alarm must be available throughout the escape routes, in order that each flat occupant can raise the alarm in the event of a fire.
Everything you install must take into account the FRA, This may take the view that the top floor occupant in a twenty storey block of flats, has the equal opportunity to respond to activation of the fire alarm as any other occupant. This could impose some very peculiar restrictions to the design of the system.
If as the OP suggested that improvements are required, then these must be undertaken. It is possible that the OP can approach the person responsible for the FRA and ask for assistance in achieving the results requested.
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