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Need to know – Fire safety for loft conversions

Nobody likes to think about house fires, it’s not exactly a fun thing to consider. But it is important and a legal requirement to make sure your loft conversion adheres to these minimum requirements of fire safety. The worst will hopefully never happen, but if it ever does and there is a fire in your home, you’ll be thankful these precautions are in place.

There are several regulations which need to be met when completing a loft conversion. For instance, in all loft projects (except bungalow conversions) the materials used within the conversion itself have to meet fire safety standards. Additionally there are often alterations required to the rest of the existing property – the main considerations are:

An alarm system

A series of interlinked smoke alarms are required at each level throughout the stairwell. They must be powered by the mains, so you can’t just stick on one of those cheap battery only units. However, these should also include a battery backup in case a fire causes a power cut.

A protected escape route

It is deemed unsafe to escape from a window above first floor level in the case of an emergency. Therefore, there needs to be a protected escape route from loft level through to the entire stairwell. All doors to habitable spaces leading off the escape route will need to be upgraded to fire-resisting doors and additional fire rated partitions may be required to provide full protection if the escape route passes through another room. Furthermore, stairs that open on to a habitable space such as a dining room or living area will need to be enclosed to create a protected escape.

If you do not wish to enclose an open staircase then a sprinkler or mister system may be required to conform with regulations.

If a property has glazed or period doors that the owners do not wish to replace, they can only be retained if a full alarm system is installed. This includes standard smoke alarms at each level throughout the stairwell as well as an additional hard-wired, interlinked alarm in every other bedroom and habitable space.

Fire containment

Dependant on the construction of the property there may be other considerations. For instance, party walls between the development property and neighbouring properties must also be considered and must be made fire resistant at loft level. In addition to this, loft extensions such as dormers must be fire resistant on the neighbouring side to reduce the risk of fire spreading to any adjoining properties.

Safety comes first

Whilst some of these regulations can seem annoying and burdensome, it’s important to remember that the only reason they are in place is to ensure you and your family’s safety. Following these regulations exactly will not only help you get planning permission, but will also allow you to sleep better at night knowing you have done everything possible to keep your family safe.

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