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Author Topic: Smoke detectors in flats  (Read 12103 times)
nigelB
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« on: November 05, 2006, 05:53:42 PM »

If I own a block of flats, and I rent them out to long term tenants; who is responsible for ensuring there are smoke detectors in each flat?  And is it necessary to have one in each flat, or is it just good practice.  Does anyone know where I can find information on such matters?
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Gel
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2006, 06:23:33 PM »

Common areas would be protected by a Fire Alarm panel eg stairwells; individual dwellings needs Smoke alarms & possibly Heat Alarms.

There is no Building Regs requiring this, however you have a civil responsibility under Duty Of Care principle; if you e mail me with your address I'll send you a relevant document.
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ian gough
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2006, 12:02:40 PM »

Quote from: Gel
Common areas would be protected by a Fire Alarm panel eg stairwells; individual dwellings needs Smoke alarms & possibly Heat Alarms.

There is no Building Regs requiring this, however you have a civil responsibility under Duty Of Care principle; if you e mail me with your address I'll send you a relevant document.
Not necessarily. This a more complicated issue.
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wee brian
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2006, 03:47:08 PM »

Gel - whats this "relevant document" you are talking about?Huh
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David Rooney
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2006, 06:07:25 PM »

Isn't this technically an HMO ?
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Allen Higginson
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2006, 01:37:09 AM »

Quote from: David Rooney
Isn't this technically an HMO ?
THats what I initially thought because we maintain a lot of flats that actually don't need the protection that is installed - HMO's only apply (in broad terms) to accommodations made up of seperate sleeping quarters but communal living areas.
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wee brian
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2006, 01:59:18 PM »

The simple rule of thumb is -

If you all live in self contained dwellings - then you each have your own self contained smoke alarm system.

If you share facilities, as in a HMO, such as kithchens - then you have a common shared fire alarm system.

However I should warn you that lots of buildings that aren't really HMOs get treated as HMOs this is due to a combination of poor legislation and overzelous enforcement.
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Allen Higginson
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2006, 02:06:16 PM »

Quote from: wee brian
The simple rule of thumb is -

If you all live in self contained dwellings - then you each have your own self contained smoke alarm system.

If you share facilities, as in a HMO, such as kithchens - then you have a common shared fire alarm system.

However I should warn you that lots of buildings that aren't really HMOs get treated as HMOs this is due to a combination of poor legislation and overzelous enforcement.
That also!
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inspectionofficer
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2006, 03:40:16 PM »

I have recently been dealing with a similar issue.
If housing(public protection) have registered it as a HMO then a 5839 part 6 LD2 system would be required to incorporate common areas of association. i.e If someone was working on the 3rd floor landing(common area)such as a contractor and the ground floor flat caught fire,the RRO insists (article 13)that warning is given.Therefore a detector is required in the domestic property(or HMO).Obviously not a definitive answer as the terminology of HMO has different meanings in different areas.
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kurnal
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« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2006, 06:59:09 PM »

Dont follow that at all Inspectionofficer. How is the contractor any more at risk on the third floor landing than the other relevant persons such as the occupants of flats on the third  floor?

I dont think we have directly answered the original question though. If the building is not an HMO, if it is a block of self contained  rented flats what is the position?
 
If the building was converted to flats after 1991 then the Building Regs in England would have ensured that each flat has a mains powered smoke detector . Pre 1991 no provision was made. I suggest if the conversion was pre 1991 and the flats are let unfurnished  then there is nothing more than a moral duty on the landlord to provide smoke alarms in the tenants flats, and now under the RRO, through the risk assessment, to consider an alarm and detection system covering the common areas.

I also think that if the flats are rented furnished  they will be more likely to be defined as an HMO. The risk will be higher as the tenants are more likely to be short term at risk groups so any moral duty on a landlord is more compelling.
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wee brian
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« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2006, 10:39:23 PM »

Putting a total building, simultaneous alarm system in a block of flats is bordering on being irresponsible.

No code of practice recomends it (quite the opposite).  False/unwanted alarms will soon make the system irrelevant.

Flats are desinged so that evacuation should not be necessary. HMOs are different (real ones that is)
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ian gough
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2006, 08:22:21 AM »

I agree on this one Brian!
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PhilB
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2006, 10:43:29 AM »

I agree also but many people out there, some risk assessors and some enforcers are requiring detection and extinguishers in the common parts of flats.

It is true that they do fall within the scope of the RRFSO but In my opinion there is no need for such provision.

Kurnal is correct with regards to flats built post 1991 and these are not HMOs.
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saddlers
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2006, 01:06:51 PM »

In my opinion the level of compartmentation comes into play. Approved Document B states that "the same principles should apply within flats as for houses whilst noting that:

a) The provisions are not intended to be applied to the common parts of flats and do not include interconnection between flats."

The reason being one of the two following scenarios:

a) In two storey flats escape is the same as dwellinghouses, out the door if possible or open the escape window hang and drop if your primary route is unavailable.

b) In flats more than 4.5m above GL the increased levels of compartmentation within flats should ensure that a flat adjoining a flat on fire should remain free from the effects of fire for a considerable time (Long enough for the fire service to arrive and determine whether evacuation is necessary and how it is done).

If at any time Tenant B discovers that a fire is ongoing in Flat A they have limited distances through common areas (which should have minimal smoke) to travel before being within a sterile stair enclosure.

These factors offset the need for an interlinked system due to the potential for a tenant to drive their neighbours potty by triggering off the alarm system as and when they please. I agree with Brian interlinking alarms could be seen as irresponsible (especially if elderly occupants are present).

In HMO's, but ONLY those where control over the occupants is easily possible (Student accommodation etc) then the interlinked alarm can work with management policies to remove irresponsible behaviour.

The risk to workers in common areas of general flats would be minimal. The workers would be nearer the stair than the occupants of the other flats. Worst case scenario, there would be 2 doors between them and the fire (and that is more than adequate at any other time, including other tenants).

Saddlers
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Ken Taylor
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2006, 05:49:15 PM »

If they are not HMOs and the occupants simply private tenants and not in care, then Building Regs provide the only legal requirement for AFD of which I am aware and then only since 1991 and not retrospective. They remain a good idea but not connected to the other flats. If you provide them, there is an argument that you should also maintain them.
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