Kitchen fire doors for two storey HMO’s and LHA requirements?

by Readers Question

13:24 PM, 27th November 2018
About A year ago

Kitchen fire doors for two storey HMO’s and LHA requirements?

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Kitchen fire doors for two storey HMO’s and LHA requirements?

There appears to be a conflict relating to the need for a kitchen fire door in two storey HMO’s. The Lacors Housing Fire Safety Guide, click here to download, and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 Schedule 3 Article 3 (ix) click here to download.

The 2006 Regs relates to HMO’s of all sizes whether licensed or not. Additionally, it does not distinguish between HMO’s let under a single AST or multiple AST (per bedroom (bedsits).

For two storey HMO’s, the subject of this article, Lacors page 41 (Escape routes) states that there is no need for fire doors, assuming a sound construction standard for the primary escape route. For bedsits, however, 30 minute fire doors are required (page 43). So, under Lacors guidance, two storey HMO’s of sound construction let under a single AST would not require fire doors to any room.

However, the 2006 Regs state that an “appropriate” fire door must be fitted to the kitchen. I am aware that the Lacors definition of a fire door (30 min fire door & frame) does not accept a close fitting solid door. However, does the word “appropriate” in the 2006 Regs imply a solid close fitting door would be ok?

There seems to be confusion between LHA’s licensing standards for HMO’s. Some follow Lacors, where a fire risk assessment will identify additional requirements, and others follow the 2006 Regs where some have defined “appropriate” in different ways (some a fire door as defined by Lacors some  a close fitting solid door.

Insisting on kitchen fire doors (30 minute fire door with frame) will subject many landlords to the unnecessary additional cost of installing a kitchen fire door in situations where it adds not safety value at all. Two storey HMO’s will normally have a secondary means of escape (1st floor windows) and many will have kitchens set well back from the primary escape route. In this case I do not feel that a kitchen fire door (30 min fire door with frame) is necessary (assuming kitchen heat detector is fitted).

Has anyone experienced an LHA insisting on a kitchen fire door as required by 2006 Regs where “appropriate” has been interpreted as a 30 minute rated fire door and not a solid close fitting door? If so, have you challenged the LHA’s definition of “appropriate” and if so what was the conclusion?

Did you go to a Rent Tribunal?

Thanks.

Rob



Comments

Anne Nixon

10:39 AM, 29th November 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 28/11/2018 - 20:32
Hi Rob,
Thanks for your reply but I don't understand what you mean. The two downstairs rooms each have their own escape windows which were installed right from the beginning and the upstairs room will, when I have changed the style of it, have a top hung velux opening out onto the bathroom roof single storey and flat in style. I'm reading page 43 note 9 " . . . the provision of suitable escape windows from all bedsit rooms may be acceptable in lieu of a fully protected route".

Rob Crawford

11:11 AM, 29th November 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Anne Nixon at 29/11/2018 - 10:39
Whether this applies depends on if the property is defined as being normal or high fire risk. A non contained high risk room (kitchen / lounge / utility room) and individual AST's would work against you. Some houses are just not designed to be HMO's. Difficult to judge without seeing it. But if you have a good understanding of Lacors and feel the LHA have got it wrong, it would be worth getting a supporting written report from a respected fire risk expert to help at the tribunal.

Anne Nixon

11:23 AM, 29th November 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 29/11/2018 - 11:11
Excellent, thank you I will do that. Thank you for your help.

Martin Thomas

9:23 AM, 1st December 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 28/11/2018 - 09:34
The bottom of the openable area must be no more than 1100mm above the floor. That will mean most top opening windows in Victorian houses won't count as an escape window, sadly.

Martin Thomas

9:34 AM, 1st December 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Anne Nixon at 28/11/2018 - 11:17
Anne, I really feel for you dealing with these idiots. What the council staff are saying is quite ludicrous! "Not normal to exit into a garden" indeed!! You need to take a stand if you think the council staff are over zealous and appeal to the rent tribunal. From memory, it should only cost £100 but if you use a housing consultant, you should be able to persuade the tribunal that the council's demands are unreasonable. Good Luck!

Rob Crawford

13:41 PM, 19th April 2019
About 8 months ago

A nice thread but no one has contributed to my original question! The 2006 Regs for management of HMO's Schedule 3, 3(b)(ix) state that an 'appropriate' fire door must be fitted to the kitchen". I am aware that the Lacors definition of a fire door (30 min fire door & frame) does not accept a close fitting solid door. However, does the word “appropriate” in the 2006 Regs imply a solid close fitting door would be ok as the guidence suggests in Lacors for a two or one storey HMO?

Anne Noon

13:52 PM, 19th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 29/11/2018 - 11:11In my HMO , in place where it does not have to be officially licensed, I recently had to put back a wall I had removed to the kitchen, and put a fire door between the new hall and kitchen. This was done in 2002, when I first purchased it,after consultation with the hmo officer at the time ( when any measures taken were entirely voluntary) 2 years ago I received a notification by the eho to say "it has come to my attention that this property is an hmo". Cheek of it, but I had to reinstate the kitchen wall and put in a standard 30 minute fire door. Plus replace all the self-closing gear damaged/ removed by the tenants over the years. Cost- about 2500, plus electrical certs every year. But my council is pretty fair about and we do not have to pay a registration fee, as when it was proposed several years ago, landlords kicked up such a fuss!!

Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

15:21 PM, 19th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Anne Noon at 19/04/2019 - 13:52
Hi Anne, I am a little confused. What was done in 2002 when you first purchased it? Did you reinstate the wall and put in a standard 30 minute fire door twice, once in 2002 and then again 2 years ago? Sorry for this idiotic question, but this is how I am reading your comment.

Also, why are they asking for electrical certs every year? I thought an Electrical Installation Safety Report (the testing of the house wiring) had to be carried out once every 5 years. Or are you referring to PAT testing?

Rob Crawford

16:21 PM, 19th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Please can we stick to contributors to my question - thanks!

PJB

16:22 PM, 19th April 2019
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 19/04/2019 - 13:41Hello Rob,
If you the same Rob that operates in the Wessex region, I can understand that the properties there are often equipped with quite wonderful heritage doors.
I looked into this some years ago. All I could come up with was using special intumescent paint or cladding to the door with intumescent treated (plaster) board (a la Barry Bucknell!). At least, this way, the door can be restored to its former glory at a later date.
In recent years smoke seals have been insisted upon, these can be retro fitted without too much damage to the door. Intumescent pads & membranes are available for use with door hinges.
I hope this provides some kind of solution for you and that these measures demonstrate that 30 minute fire protection can be achieved with original doors in keeping within the spirit of Lacors.

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