The necessary compliance with fire regulations in a conversion project can mean that design is compromised, costs are greatly increased and sprinklers may need to be installed with the potential for significant disruption.
The owners of a 4 storey Georgian building in Bridport with high ceilings and lots of architectural features faced these problems when they wanted to convert the property into 2 maisonettes. They asked Mark Evans, Director and owner of Firemaster of Brixham, Devon to advise on and install fire protection. However, several obstacles stood in the way of an aesthetically pleasing, cost effective solution. The means of escape from the 2nd floor meant that a protected route was required which would enable occupants to reach the 1st floor level and then pass the kitchen - which was the higher risk room - to the final exit door. Because the size of this room meant that making it smaller would render it oppressive, an open plan aspect was considered. However, conventional application of Approved Doc B required the kitchen to be closed in due to its location on the property’s escape route. Furthermore, it was crucial that any fire suppression should be easily retrofitted as the conversion was already almost complete when the owners were advised by Building Control that they would need to install alternative measures.
There was a dilemma. In order to achieve the design and cost requirements, an innovative solution to fire suppression was needed. Fortunately, a family member who is an architect came up with a realistic solution – Automist from Plumis. Automist uses a high pressure pump to generate a fine water mist from nozzles mounted under a standard tap for effective residential fire life suppression and fulfilled all the requirements - it can be easily retrofitted, is very cost effective and does not involve the use of sprinklers.
Mark Evans commented, “Following the installation of Automist, our clients were able to fulfil their aspirations for an open plan design and feel that they have really added to the property’s safety giving them confidence and assurance and allowing them to comply with Building Regulations. Firemaster would definitely recommend Automist in situations where design, retrofit and budget considerations are paramount.”