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What you need to know
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How we can help
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Frequently asked questions

I’M ONLY DOING A SMALL BUILDING PROJECT. DO I STILL NEED A POST CONSTRUCTION AUDIT?

It would depend on the scope of the works. We would recommend a fire safety audit is carried out after any construction work, small or large, to ensure your building is always safe and compliant.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FIRE SAFETY IN NEW BUILDS?

The responsibility for fire safety in new build properties transfers to the new owners as the Responsible Person upon completion.  During the build phase the principal contractor and Building Control officers are responsible to ensure the building is compliant before signing off, and this would include the Principal Designer who would be responsible for the fire safety design. This transfer of responsibility can mean the new building owner finds themselves responsible for a building that is non-compliant if they have not carried out sufficient due diligence during the build phase.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE MY FIRE DAMPERS SERVICED?

It would be recommended to have your fire dampers tested and serviced 1 year after installation, and at least every 4 years after that (with some exceptions such as hospitals). However, if these dampers are in areas exposed to high dust levels or soiling (such as cooking fats) more frequent servicing would be needed.

ARE FIRE DAMPER INSPECTIONS REQUIRED BY LAW?

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it is a requirement that your fire dampers are “maintained in an efficient working order and in good repair” for which reason these have to be inspected to demonstrate this.

IS A FIRE STRATEGY REQUIRED BY LAW?

Yes, Article 11 of the RRFSO requires the Responsible Person to provide “effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures”and “to record the arrangements”.  Also Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations requires that a package of fire safety information must be assembled and given to the Responsible Person, and building owners that do not have this information should have a strategy created and also generate the information that they should have.

IS A FIRE STRATEGY PRODUCED WHEN A BUILDING IS BUILT?

Yes, the majority of new build developments will have a fire strategy as part of the design process, which is typically reviewed and revised as necessary during the project, right up until completion. However, this fire strategy will need to be reviewed after the building is in use, and it may be necessary to tailor the strategy to the requirements depending on the use of the building.

I HAVE DYNAMIC SIGNAGE IN MY BUILDING. DOES THIS AFFECT THE EVACUATION PLAN?

Yes, it does. The physical plan on paper would be the same in principle, but the actual evacuation would be different, primarily that persons would be directed intelligently away from the direction of the fire, not towards down a fire exit route where the fire may be. Also it has been proved to significantly increase the speed and effectiveness of the evacuation, as the signs are much more easily understood and the directions are followed by comparison to traditional fixed signage.

WHY DO I NEED THESE DRAWINGS?

Fire strategy drawings play a vital part in managing the fire safety in any building. They not only help the occupants and owners understand the building, but they also help external organisations such as the Fire Service or contractors working in the building.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD FIRE DOORS BE CHECKED?

In most cases your fire doors should be checked as often as you should check your alarms, which is every 6 months. This can change depending on your building.

DO I HAVE COMPARTMENTATION IN MY BUILDING?

Simple answer: yes, you do. The idea of Passive Fire Protection has been around since the Great Fire of London in 1666, when it was recognised that the timber framed buildings joined to each other was what caused the catastrophic fire spread. It has of course been enhanced since then, with new laws and guidance introduced. Unless your building is not joined to any other and is all one room/compartment you will have fire compartmentation.

IS PASSIVE FIRE PROTECTION INCLUDED IN THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS?

Yes it has to be, right from design through to the final stages of the build. However, with the combination of trades and services interlocked throughout a building it is important that any the penetrations through fire resisting walls and floors are correctly firestopped.

Why is passive fire protection important?

Passive Fire Protection is essential in stopping the spread of smoke and fire through a building. It is needed to protect the escape routes and the building’s structure to prevent it from collapsing. If the passive fire protection is correct then it is unlikely any significant damage will arise from a fire.

How often does the law say it should be done?

There is no set time of how often a fire risk assessment must be carried out, it is down to the fire risk assessor and the particular issues found, what the property is used. However, once a fire risk assessment has been produced and the fire risk assessor put down a review or renewal this has to be adhered or the responsible person/s could be prosecuted in the event of a fire, if the fire risk assessment was out of date. It is good practice to carry one out annually.

Does my building need a Fire Risk Assessment?

The most likely answer is yes. If your building is a domestic dwelling and a single private dwelling with no communal areas it is not required, if unsure, review Article 6 of the RRFSO.

Can I carry out my own Fire Risk Assessment?

A Fire Risk Assessment must be completed by a “Competent Person”. This means you must have the necessary knowledge, training, skills and experience. If your Fire Risk Assessment isn’t “Suitable and Sufficient” you could be prosecuted.

What is a Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment?

A Type 4 FRA is the most thorough of the four types. It includes assessing both the communal areas and a sample of the dwellings. Not only that, it includes an intrusive/destructive assessment of the passive fire measures.

What are Fire Risk Assessment Types 1, 2, 3 and 4 all about?
  • Type 1-4 FRA’s were introduced with the LGA Guide to Fire Safety in Purpose Built Block of Flats, and the purpose was to define the scope of these different FRA’s. 
    • Type 1 FRA would assess the communal areas only, such as shared lobby’s, stairwells, shared kitchens, bin stores, plant rooms and roof voids but not dwellings. This is a non-destructive survey. 
    • Type 2 is the same as Type 1 but includes a destructive intrusive inspection of the structural fire compartmentation. 
    • Type 3 is the same as Type 1 except it also includes a sample inspection of the dwellings as well as the communal areas. 
    • Type 4 is the same as Type 3 except that it also includes a destructive intrusive inspection of the structural fire compartmentation.
How am I supposed to know whether I should do it myself or whether I should appoint a competent person?

This decision should be made with consideration to the level of competency required, which would depend on the size / complexity and risk of the building to be assessed. It should be someone with the right skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours to conduct this assessment thoroughly and accurately.

How often should a carry out a property check?

It is recommended to carry out a thorough inspection every time the property becomes vacant.

What do I need to check on a void property?

Along with checking of electrics, boiler and wear and tear of the building. Fire safety checks are also important to keep in check, such as, checking of smoke detectors, Carbon monoxide detectors and generally fire integrity of the property, including party walls, roof voids and fire doors if required.

We have sprinklers; do I still need compartmentation?

Yes you do still need compartments within a property if over a specific size even if you have sprinklers because it will still reduce the risk of fire and smoke spread through the property and protect escape routes

What is the difference between active and passive fire protection?

Active Fire protection takes action in order to put out a fire. Passive Fire Protection will help prevent a fire from spreading. They work together by alerting people inside the building of a fire and safely containing the fire so that people may evacuate and/or try to suppress the fire.

Why are breaches made in compartment walls?

Breaches are often made by third party contractors carrying out electrical, plumbing, IT works and holes are drilled through walls which aren’t firestopped.  We recommend that you ensure any works done to your property are checked to ensure they are firestopped with correct products for the application.

We don’t have a stay-put policy; why does compartmentation matter?

Whatever type of evacuation policy your building has, it is important that it is split into compartments so that any fire is restricted within a certain area for a certain time which would allow the occupants to move to an area of safety.

What is the purpose of compartmentation?

Compartmentation is a very important part of the structure for fire safety design of a building.  Large areas are divided into smaller areas with compartment walls so that if a fire starts it can be contained in one area and restricted from travelling to other sections of a building.  Compartments are built differently depending on the type of building and its use. An example is a commercial premise compared to a premise with sleeping accommodation.

Is it illegal to wedge open a fire door?

In a word, yes. If you wedge open a door regardless for whatever reason, if in the event of a fire it is judged that you put someone’s life at risk by doing this, you can face a fine or even a prison sentence. There are approved fire alarm open hold devices which can be installed, these are linked to the fire alarm and will release on alarm activation.

Where should fire doors be installed?

Fire doors should be installed on rooms off escape routes and high risk areas such as server rooms, plants, kitchens etc. A fire risk assessment should indicate where fire doors should be installed and to what rating ie FD30s, FD60’s, FD120 etc

Can I repair a fire door?

In some cases, fire doors can be repaired using approved techniques, but this depends on several factors and expert advice should be sort.

Can anyone install a fire door?

It is recommended to have a fire door installed by a certified installer as they are the only ones that can certify it.

Why should I check fire doors?

Regular inspection of fire doors is important to ensue they are in good working order, ensuring that in the event of a fire they remain an effective lifesaving tool.

What is dynamic signage?

Dynamic signage is a great but relatively new product which shows where a fire exit route has been cut off due to an outbreak of fire. These can often be found in shopping centres and other large public places which guide people away from an exit route that may be cut off and lead them to another safe exit of the building.

Why should I check my void properties for fire safety?

If it is your responsibility to ensure the property is compliant before the property is re-occupied the best time to do this is when it is empty.

What are the four colours of safety signage? 
  • Red is for fire prohibition
  • Blue for mandatory, i.e fire door keep shut, fire exit keep clear
  • Yellow for caution, i.e caution high voltage 
  • Green for safe condition, i.e fire exit signage, first aid, push bar to open on escape doors
What colour is a fire exit sign, and does it need the running man pictogram?  

Fire exit signage is a green background with white writing. Yes, it should have the white running man with the relevant arrow, up or down, left or right, or for final exits no arrow at all unless there are steps outside the final fire exit.

What is a photo-luminescent sign?

Photo-luminescent signage is used where there is a risk of light failure, and these glow in the dark to direct you to the nearest fire exit.

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