Unfortunately due to the recent Grenfell Tower disaster, Fire Risk Assessments and the issue of compartmentalisation has been a hot topic amongst the leasehold world. Whilst it is highly likely that in due course formal central government guidance will be issued (which will replace the current guidelines) these must be looked at in context of the current regulations.
As a general, most authorities and the opinions of risk assessors are that the Stay Put Policy is the most suitable policy for any property. Please read further and wait a moment before deciding that you are a Stay Put policy.
Stay Put policies rely upon compartmentalisation. In a nutshell, this means that your property needs to be a contained unit compartment apart from the rest of the property hence the word compartmentalisation. In order to achieve this, you need to be able to contain the fire either within the flat, or from entering the flat, for generally 30 to 60 minutes. However this guidance depends on the nature and height of your building.
There are many different factors as to why buildings might initially, and on the face of it, be suitable, from compartmentalisation going to the Stay Put policy however failed to meet the standards. The main reasons why apartments and flats failed to meet the standards, I think, like 30-minute fire doors on the face of the property along with door closers and penetrations in the floor for cabling and water supplies. These are just a few examples of the most commonly found reasons as to why compartmentalisation may fail. Assuming that all of those areas are complied with, there is no reason why compartmentalisation should not work in your property, however, you should always bear in mind that if smoke or fire enters the premise you should take a dynamic view on what is required i.e. the situation may change and it may be appropriate for you to leave the apartment for your safety. Up until that time it may have been safer to stay in the property. A degree of common sense needs to be applied in these instances.
The other style of property is the Get Out Stay Out policy. This generally speaking is dictated by the fact that an alarm system exists and is set to reach a certain amount of decibels at your bed head so when you’re asleep in your bed you hear the alarm because it is over a certain amount of decibels. In the event of the alarm, instructions are to get out of the property and stay out of the property however you may still have 30-minute fire doors, and various other Stay Put policy style fire related/fire prevention related facilities, and in the event that is not possible for you to get out of the building just because the fire alarm is going off.
If you’re even remotely unsure about the policy that your building runs you should contact the manager for the building either a resident or the property management company in most cases. They should be able to confirm to you what policy you are running at your block and if you are partway through carrying out compliance works what policy you’re running at that time most of these works are being carried out.
If you have any questions about your property and its policy which its running we would suggest you get in touch with Jake Ashdown on (01323) 894400 and press option one and ask for Jake.
Jake should be able to assist you. If you have a number of requirements which the meeting (normally identified in the recent risk assessment), and that the funding of these requirements may be difficult to meet. It would normally come out with a tangible and realistic timescale to reach compliance, which shouldn’t be too big a burden on the residents but bear in mind their safety.