The risk of a fire occurring and the harm a fire could cause is increased in multiple occupied dwellings. Therefore measures must be taken to reduce the levels of risk to occupiers in the event of fire.

The strategy to reduce the risk of harm to the occupiers in the event of a fire has two main components. The first is to give the occupants early warning of a fire occurring and the second is to provide a means of escaping from any room in the house to a place of safety (Protected Route).

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to fire safety in HMO’s. The vast number of variations in the layout, type of building, the occupants etc. means that a risk based approach is required. There are of course some general guidelines for some categories of property which will be discussed in this document, but to determine the finer details of the levels of protection required, the risks associated with each individual will need to be assessed.

We stress again that the following information is not a schedule of works; it is a guide on the general requirements. You will need to carry out more in-depth research and in the back of this guide you will find links to useful sources of information. The Council may be able to advise you but please be aware that we cannot make advisory visits to the property.

Be as accurate as possible in your assessment of the property and try to avoid categorizing the risks lower than they are in order to save costs. This may end up costing more in the long run if the Council finds that the risks are not adequately reduced.

General Information

Should the property have been converted and meet with the full requirements of Part B of Building Regulations post 1991 for structural separation and early warning alarm systems (all of which is completed with relevant certificates), then no further fire precaution works will be required.

The Council‘s fire precaution standards generally require:

  • An automatic fire detection system conforming to BS5839; Part 6: 2004
  • A non-maintained Emergency Lighting system conforming to BS5266 Part 1:1999
  • Half-hour fire resistance to all walls and ceilings throughout (including basement ceilings), in order to achieve adequate fire separation between units of accommodation and compartmentation of the means of escape.
  • Fire doors fitted and certified as capable of achieving full half hour fire resistance in conjunction with their frames. All doors should be rendered and maintained selfclosing and close fitting. Provide intumescent strips and smoke seals as required. All fire door components must comply with BS476:1987 (Part31 (1)). The installation and maintenance of all fire doors must be in compliance with BS8214:1990 Code of Practice for fire doors with non-metallic leaves.
  • Fire blankets in containers to BS6575:1985 in the kitchens. These should be positioned approximately 1.5m above floor level.
  • Gas and electricity distribution panels, meters and fuse boxes in the common parts must be enclosed to give half hour fire resistance, and provided with a lockable door. Affix a standard blue disc ‘FIRE DOOR KEEP SHUT’ signs.
  • Occupants must be able to exit the house from any room without the need to use a key.
  • Additionally, fire extinguishers may be provided if tenants are to be instructed on their correct use; in which case they should be nine-litre water type, 13A rating, to BS EN3: 1996 and placed on every landing on the common staircase. They should be mounted on wall brackets, with the top of each extinguisher approximately one metre above floor level.

The table below provides some examples of typical property types and the fire precautions that would be appropriate. These examples are however very generalized and should be used for guidance only. The risks associated with each individual property will need to be assesses and the appropriate measures taken accordingly.

Emergency Escape Windows

A room from which the only escape route is through another room is an “inner room”. The room through which you have to pass is the “access room”. Inner rooms should not be used as bedrooms because there is a much greater risk to the occupants should a fire start in the access room. This situation could arise, for example, where a bedroom is accessed from a living room.

An inner room situation can be overcome by the provision of an emergency escape window or door leading to an alternative escape route.

Escape windows must enable a person to reach a place of safety free from danger from fire and are therefore generally provided to ground floor windows only. However escape windows may be provided to first floor rooms, provided that the distance from the window cill to external ground level does not exceed 4.5 metres. Such rooms should only be occupied by persons physically capable of escaping via this route.

The escape window should have an unobstructed openable area that is at least 0.33m2 and at least 450mm high and 450mm wide (the route through the window may be at an angle rather than straight through).The bottom of the openable area should be not more than 1100mm above the floor.

Keys for escape windows MUST always be kept either in the lock or in a specially designated and clearly-signed location as close as possible to the window itself.

Where there is an inner room, a hard wired smoke/heat detector must be located in the access room, which is interlinked with the appropriate fire alarm system in the building.

Fire Safety Provisions

Fire Precautions