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Welcome to the Plumis fire protection blog. Stay informed about domestic fire safety, fire building regulations and ADB-compliant solutions for open plan living. Please feel free to browse through the posts and comment about what you read.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Fire warning over DIY loft conversions

Nottinghamshire residents are being warned about the dangers of carrying out DIY loft extensions after crews struggled to access a fire.

The landlord of a house in Aspley was issued a prohibition notice for converting the loft into a bedroom without council permission. A prohibition notice means a loft space and/or property cannot be occupied until the loft meets building regulation standards.

The property caught fire and fire fighters could not access the loft as the hatch space was too narrow.

A Gedling Borough Council spokesman said conversions had to be safe.

"A loft conversion can be a cost-effective way of creating more space within a house but it is essential the room is safe for people to use it," said David Ewing, building control manager at Gedling Borough Council.

"Carrying out work without the necessary permissions may also invalidate their house insurance in the event of a fire or structural problems."

(Source – BBC)

What do I need to do to ensure my loft conversion complies with building regulations?

If I want to carry out a loft conversion on your home, you must ensure the appropriate requirements of the Building Regulations are applied.

The structural strength of the proposed floor is sufficient; the stability of the structure (including the roof) is not endangered; safe escape from fire; safely designed stairs to the new floor; and reasonable sound insulation between the conversion and the rooms below.

You will also need to consider whether your loft conversion project is subject to The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 under which you must give adjoining owners notice.

For more information on the full requirements download the Building Regulations Explanatory Booklet.

Alternative means of compliance

Homeowners often carry out refurbishment projects in order to create living spaces which look and feel better. Unfortunately, modern layouts are often at odds with the fire safety requirements of Building Regulations: the regulations are very prescriptive in nature sometimes mandate either unattractive compartmentation or costly and unwanted sprinkler systems. However, Approved Document B (ADB) does suggest an alternative: the use of innovative fire suppression systems such as Automist:

"0.18. There are many alternative or innovative fire suppression systems available. Where these are used it is necessary to ensure that such systems have been designed and tested for use in domestic buildings and are fit for their intended purpose."

Automist from Plumis is a new innovative, best value, fire protection solution to facilitate loft conversions and comply with building regulations and the RRFSO. The system is available in a unique mixer tap version for higher risk kitchen fire protection and an inconspicuous wall mounting version to protect stairwells or escape routes. And provides design freedom and flexibility for open plan spaces, in new builds, refurbishments or loft conversions. An automatic water-mist device, which has been extensively tested and proven by BRE Global in Watford.

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