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Loft Conversion and Fire Safety – Part I
When converting your loft it’s important that loft conversion fire safety regulations are followed to the letter in order keep your family members safe.
The installation of smoke alarms, or automatic fire detection and alarm systems is a crucial element as it can significantly increase the level of safety in your house by automatically giving an early warning of fire, especially if you are converting your loft into a sleeping space.
The ‘Approved Document B (Fire safety) – Volume 1: Dwellinghouses’ which provides practical guidance for fire safety, states the following:
- Where new habitable rooms are provided above the ground floor level, or where they are provided at ground floor level and there is no final exit from the new room, a fire detection and fire alarm system should be installed.
- Smoke alarms should normally be positioned in the circulation spaces between sleeping spaces and places where fires are most likely to start (e.g. kitchens and living rooms) to pick up smoke in the early stages of a fire.
- There should be at least one smoke alarm on every storey of a dwelling house.
- Where the kitchen area is not separated from the stairway or circulation space by a door, there should be a compatible interlinked heat detector or heat alarm in the kitchen, in addition to whatever smoke alarms are needed in the circulation space(s).
- Where more than one alarm is installed they should be linked so that the detection of smoke or heat by one unit operates the alarm signal in all of them.
- It should be possible to reach the smoke alarms to carry out routine maintenance, such as testing and cleaning, easily and safely. For this reason smoke alarms should not be fixed over a stair or any other opening between floors.
- Smoke alarms should not be fixed next to or directly above heaters or air-conditioning outlets. They should not be fixed in bathrooms, showers, cooking areas or garages, or any other place where steam, condensation or fumes could give false alarms.
- Smoke alarms should not be fitted in places that get very hot (such as a boiler room) or very cold (such as an unheated porch). They should not be fixed to surfaces which are normally much warmer or colder than the rest of the space, because the temperature difference might create air currents which move smoke away from the unit.
Smoke alarms/detectors should be sited so that:
- there is a smoke alarm in the circulation space within 7.5m of the door to every habitable room;
- they are ceiling-mounted and at least 300mm from walls and light fittings (unless, in the case of light fittings, there is test evidence to prove that the proximity of the light fitting will not adversely affect the efficiency of the detector). Units designed for wall-mounting may also be used provided that the units are above the level of doorways opening into the space and they are fixed in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions; and
- the sensor in ceiling-mounted devices is between 25mm and 600mm below the ceiling (25-150mm in the case of heat detectors or heat alarms).
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