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Complicated residential / commercial block

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witsd
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Complicated residential / commercial block

Post by witsd » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:47 am

Scenario: Small block of flats in Scotland (<18m)

Flats either owner-occupiers or owned by a commercial holiday letting company (approx 60-40 split)

Alarm system was originally detectors only, linked to smoke vent windows. This has been upgraded to a full alarm system (smoke alarms, call points and panel) in the common areas only. This is not linked to an ARC.

All flats fitted with local LD2 only, no connection to common alarm system or any ARC.

Stay put policy in place for owners and hotel guests.

Other similar local blocks are totally controlled by the letting company. These are linked to a local office ARC and operate a full evacuation upon any activation.

Some false alarms occurring due to drink / unfamiliar persons operating the call points.

So, what would you recommend? I have some ideas but would appreciate some suggestions before I commit! :D

I should mention that I'm not doing a full FRA here, this is just an 'advice' situation.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Complicated residential / commercial block

Post by hammer1 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:23 am

Well, when you say letting company are you saying Hotel or do you mean Airbnb type set up ?

I would look at the block as a whole rather than looking at it separately - What are the benefits of a communal AFD? If a stay put strategy?

First point as always is fire strategy/ Is there one/ Is there any historic info from building control/ previous FRAs/Reg 38 etc Is this a new build (last 10 years) as the AFD install could mean it is a conversion and is a compensatory measure?

The strategy seems to echo a specialised housing type build where you have communal lounges etc - this would be classed as a mixed evacuation strategy (stay put in flats/simultaneous in communal areas).

I have seen in the past single blocks which were social housing and private housing which were split by fire doors (recent announcement by Government on the removal a 'poor doors' will have a massive impact on current housing new builds approach) where the evacuation strategy was split/ is this possible in this block?

To be fair I be leaning to having the build as before/ if the letting company want early warning - They can silence the sounders and have an ARC system only linked to the smoke detection (remove MCPs) - There seems to be an issue with this block with Unwanted Fire Signals (UwFS) that the other blocks don't have? What are the root causes ? Why are people smoking/drink causing AFD activation in common areas? Have the MCPs got covers/signage to reduce accidental activation?

In regards to the other blocks - Are they classed as Hotel or Airbnb types?

Hard one to judge as would need more info but interesting...
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Re: Complicated residential / commercial block

Post by witsd » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:42 am

I'll try and answer what I can!

I probably shouldn't name the company, but they are described as 'apartment hotels'. To all intents and purposes they seem like a series of AirB&Bs run by a local office, but in some cases they operate within every single flat in a block which is virtually indistinguishable from a normal hotel.

At best, the communal system might alert residents / guests to an issue in the common space – either fire-raising or a flat fire that has broken through the flat door. The thought 'this doesn't help much' was what I was running with until I realised what the actual set up was. It still doesn't help much, but maybe it needs to go further and the stay put policy (for the guest rooms) is just plain wrong?

The buildings are less than 10 years old, but not by that much. They were built as domestic and are presumed to have all the relevant compartmentation features that that would require.

All the flats share the same common areas with no way of splitting this – it's not a case of the top X flats being one thing and the bottom the other – they are mixed in.

The current strategy is stay put for everyone. Ultimately not my problem as I don't represent the hotel company, but it still doesn't sit well with me, especially given the lack of an ARC link.

What I want is to avoid having a situation whereby every time the hen party staying in flat X burn their toast at 3am, Mr Bloggs who owns flat Y gets woken up by the common alarm system, AND When the stag party in Flat Z actually do set fire to their flat, someone actually knows about it and does something appropriate.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Complicated residential / commercial block

Post by hammer1 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:21 pm

witsd wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:42 am
I'll try and answer what I can!

I probably shouldn't name the company, but they are described as 'apartment hotels'. To all intents and purposes they seem like a series of AirB&Bs run by a local office, but in some cases they operate within every single flat in a block which is virtually indistinguishable from a normal hotel.

At best, the communal system might alert residents / guests to an issue in the common space – either fire-raising or a flat fire that has broken through the flat door. The thought 'this doesn't help much' was what I was running with until I realised what the actual set up was. It still doesn't help much, but maybe it needs to go further and the stay put policy (for the guest rooms) is just plain wrong?

The buildings are less than 10 years old, but not by that much. They were built as domestic and are presumed to have all the relevant compartmentation features that that would require.

All the flats share the same common areas with no way of splitting this – it's not a case of the top X flats being one thing and the bottom the other – they are mixed in.

The current strategy is stay put for everyone. Ultimately not my problem as I don't represent the hotel company, but it still doesn't sit well with me, especially given the lack of an ARC link.

What I want is to avoid having a situation whereby every time the hen party staying in flat X burn their toast at 3am, Mr Bloggs who owns flat Y gets woken up by the common alarm system, AND When the stag party in Flat Z actually do set fire to their flat, someone actually knows about it and does something appropriate.


Well if they have standalone LD2 (which is better than the guidance of LD3) unless they are leaving front doors open, not sure how they are setting off the communal alarm?

In regards to if in event of fire within flat - It would still be the same principals as a block and if compartmentation is to standard etc it should still be a stay put strategy so other residents should not really need to be made aware - I think the linking the system to an ARC (seems they do for the other blocks so not sure why not this one) and remove the sounders/MCPs could be the best option?

I think the main area here is management as I would expect a welcome pack in the Airbnb flats relating to fire safety - evacuation plan on inner door (like Hotel) - from limited experience the renting of flats for weekends follows the same principals if they were AST leases/where people sub let their flats while on holidays - no different flat Y having a party and burning toast as to the rented flats - only difference is lack of understanding of layout.

Don't think you can adopt the 'hotel' approach into this type of set up - Hotels have many fire exits/ long corridors/everyone is a guest/staff/additional communal areas as receptions/staff rooms/restaurants etc - therefore for more enhanced evacuation strategy required.

Just my thoughts ./thumbsup..
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Re: Complicated residential / commercial block

Post by witsd » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:33 pm

hammer1 wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:21 pm
Well if they have standalone LD2 (which is better than the guidance of LD3) unless they are leaving front doors open, not sure how they are setting off the communal alarm?
So far they aren't (except via mucking about with the call points), but were they to put the same system in place as in the other blocks, they'd end up with the hotel flats linked to the common areas and obviously that'd be terrible for the other residents.

Regarding the rest, that does sound sensible, but relies on them maintaining the current 'stay put' procedure... is that valid for a series of hotel rooms?

Personally I've been leaning towards recommending linking the hotel rooms' LD2s to the local office ARC and also using a heat detector within each flat to communicate with the common area detection and between the flats (also ARCed). That would result in a bit of burnt toast in a hotel room alerting the ARC and immediate guest only, while a serious fire would trigger an alarm in all areas except the residents' homes. This would get the guests to evacuate but not the resident. It just might be too complicated to go with though, in terms of both equipment and management.

As it stands, we are looking at stripping the system back to its original state (detection for smoke venting only) until an additional FRA is completed, as the current set-up of sounders but stay put is just silly.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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