Fire Inspection – Upgrades required again?

by Readers Question

8:46 AM, 9th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Fire Inspection – Upgrades required again?

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Fire Inspection – Upgrades required again?

I have four flats above a retail shop on two floors. The property was built in about 1900 and the conversion was undertaken in 2016 with full planning and building control approved and signed off.

My managing agent says I must have a fire inspection which I have had done and the report “recommended” certain minor works and a full alarm system to the common areas at considerable expense. The flats already have the normal mains wired alarms.

My agent says that recommended works should be taken as compulsory.

I do appreciate that after Grenfell the rules may have changed, but to keep upgrading every time a new regulation comes out seems excessive.

The views and experience of other landlords would be appreciated.

Russell

 



Comments

James Barnes

9:17 AM, 9th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Before commissioning additional works I would contact Building Control again, especially as they've already signed off. If they confirm that the fire alarm system has to be upgraded then fair enough, otherwise I think this is up to you.
As far as fire is concerned though, it's always best to err on the side of caution.

Ken Johns

10:45 AM, 9th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

I think you have to be very careful as you cannot seek a professional opinion and then just ignore it because you do not like the answer. I have been in a similar situation to you in the past, but did take the advice and had a system installed, not because of Grenfell or any other disaster, but because as a landlord, I have a responsibility to my tenants to keep them in as safe a condition as is reasonably possible. If you ignore this and had a fire, rest assured the details of the report will come out and I think you may well find that your Insurers would walk away as well as I am sure you will find there is a clause somewhere that says that you should keep the property safe. I do not know if you are new to property letting, but contrary to what the Government seems to think, they are not just cash cows, you do sometimes have to put money back into them. Finally, in any case when you come to sell the property one day, I am sure one question that will be checked upon by the purchasers solicitors is if the property is currently safe.

David Aneurin

15:07 PM, 9th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Check the Local Government Association "Fire Safety in purpose-built blocks of flats" One of the comments "it is unnecessary and undesirable for a fire alarm to be provided" but read the rest.
I am therefore skeptical of any recommendation to install fire alarm systems in common areas without good reason. (having been called out at 3.00 am this morning on a false alarm)

sam

16:12 PM, 9th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Call your local fire safety officer. They will do an inspection foc. But beware that they have enforecement power. I have always found them helpful

blair

21:37 PM, 9th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

I don't agree with some of the earlier comments. I don't know what your agent recommended but what is compulsory is a "fire risk assessment". Thus read the report does the person who did the risk assessment think it's a upgrade that is urgent due to a high assessed risk.

This harking back to `grenfell is not wrong but there were a lot of issues there particularly smoke relief,

The guy who did the risk assessment is supposed to consider the risks and ways to reduce them in importance He probably even and should have considered heat detectors inside each flat.

If the compartmentisation is good and no alterations have reduced the risks then I question what more you need to do especially as the conversion was built to recent codes. Note there are indeed different rules for conversions as opposed to purpose built flats. You say four flats. how any stores is also very relevant to a risk assessment

Your assessor should have identified the risks and put them in order of priority and what needs attention

Gunga Din

13:06 PM, 10th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Your alarms may be mains powered but a question to be asked is are they interlinked.

I had a similar decision to yours, and considered the prospect of a fire in the shop outside open hours. I have an interlinked system, where an individual head can cancel the alarm if someone burns the toast etc. There are two heads in the common staircase, recommended by the architect of the conversion (1890s three storey terrace) and signed of by Building Control. For some reason BC didn't require a head in the shop - can't recall why, possibly because the shop wasn't part og the conversion?

If a fire started in the shop, I'd be blamed if the residents above didn't get out.


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