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Littlebeeches  
#1 Posted : 25 March 2019 17:40:09(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Littlebeeches

I have recently been looking at rented office space for a client advising on H&S. I was suprised to see how many rented offices only had a main reception and no alternative fire exits. The last site I saw had a first floor office space of potentially 80 seats, raises the following question. How do you safely escape a building that could cater 180 seats (Ground floor and first) with all trying to evacuate the building at the same time.?

Am I missing something?

How did these properties (less than 10 years old) get through planning and the Fire Officer?

jwk  
#2 Posted : 26 March 2019 08:56:41(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
jwk

It comes down to effective compartmentation and a) the distance to a place of relative safety and b) the distance to a place of absolute safety (that is, outside the building and away from the fire). A large single room would have different risks to two smaller spaces with effective fire separation. So as a start, are there two doors at reception leading into different spaces?

John

AndyMcCluskey  
#3 Posted : 26 March 2019 13:00:47(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AndyMcCluskey

Hi,

All premises should have a current Fire Risk Assessment.

As you are advising clients on h&s within possible rented accomodation for them, you need to see a copy of this to ensure that the landlord has completed their duties and responsibilities correctly.

Cheers

Andy 

ttxela  
#4 Posted : 26 March 2019 14:06:59(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
ttxela

I'm with you Little beeches, I'm struggling to think of a single premises that I know of where 180 people work that only has one way in and out regardless of compartmentation etc.

If a landlord has a FRA for the site it's probably either for his own purposes as an vacant rental or completed by a previous occupier, you'd need to do your own to cover your own circumstances and arrangements once you occupy - and what then if you conclude a single exit is insufficient?

When looking to take on new sites, like you I'll be drafting a FRA in my head as I view.

thanks 3 users thanked ttxela for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 26/03/2019(UTC), jwk on 26/03/2019(UTC), Dave5705 on 28/03/2019(UTC)
jwk  
#5 Posted : 26 March 2019 17:14:36(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
jwk

There are two figures quoted for occupancy in the OP, is it 80 (possible) or 180 (not really possible)?

John

Littlebeeches  
#6 Posted : 26 March 2019 18:57:42(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Littlebeeches

Thank you for the feedback on this topic. At the time I instructed the client to liaise with the Landlord to see if a copy of the FRA was available. The response was similar to other Landlords I have had dealings with, which is their responsibility only lies in the communal areas. The building I have referenced in this topic is multi-occupancy 4 offices on each floor. The seating mentioned is based on the headcount that was being proposed by my client (26) to which I based the total seating on the floor plans supplied by the Landlord. On the day I recommended that if the Landlord was not prepared to supply an alternative means of escape then consideration should be made to fit a window ladder and as only fire point was supplied in the communal corridor that theiy supply their own extinguishers for their rented area.
Ziggymoon  
#7 Posted : 27 March 2019 10:27:59(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Ziggymoon

Originally Posted by: jwk Go to Quoted Post

There are two figures quoted for occupancy in the OP, is it 80 (possible) or 180 (not really possible)?

John

Yes the figures were a bit confusing at first but on re-reading the original post it does say 80 seats on the first floor and quotes 180 as combined first and ground floor occupancy.

jwk  
#8 Posted : 28 March 2019 15:55:51(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
jwk

Thanks Ziggy,

Well, that clears that up: on two floors with 180 people you will almost certainly need two escape routes. Don't go down the escape ladder route (no pun intended), fire services don't like them and they're not really practical, especially given an ageing working population. A fixed escape stairway is what I would seriously consider,

John

thanks 1 user thanked jwk for this useful post.
ttxela on 29/03/2019(UTC)
AndyMcCluskey  
#9 Posted : 29 March 2019 11:54:37(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AndyMcCluskey

Presumably the provision of a fixed escape stairway would be the Landlord's responsibility?

Cheers

Andy 

nic168  
#10 Posted : 29 March 2019 12:03:00(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
nic168

Littlebreeches, I work for an organisation that is the Landlord on our current site. the line taken is similar to that you descrbe, but it is in the rental contract that we are responsible for communual areas and facilities as well as infrastructure which include external fire escapes and route.

It may be that this landlord is reasoning that by not having fire escapes he is not responsible for their upkeep.  I know this is nonsense but it never ceases to surprise me how ignorant some bodies are of basic building safety, let only the finer points of Fire safety.

AndyMcCluskey  
#11 Posted : 29 March 2019 14:49:21(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
AndyMcCluskey

Littlebeeches

If I were in your position , I would advise my Client to inform any potential Landlord that a copy of the current and suitable site specific FRA be sent to you for consideration before viewing - inspection. 

If one isn't available or feeble excuses are made, then simply leave it as this is a good indication that true compliances are not being met.

My rule of thumb when advising clients has always been to have sufficient evidence to back up the advice that I have given.

Cheers

Andy

thanks 1 user thanked AndyMcCluskey for this useful post.
Dave5705 on 03/04/2019(UTC)
ttxela  
#12 Posted : 29 March 2019 14:58:42(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
ttxela

Originally Posted by: jwk Go to Quoted Post

Thanks Ziggy,

Well, that clears that up: on two floors with 180 people you will almost certainly need two escape routes. Don't go down the escape ladder route (no pun intended), fire services don't like them and they're not really practical, especially given an ageing working population. A fixed escape stairway is what I would seriously consider,

John

Indeed, if you are seriously considering a ladder (either roll-out or the cantilever sort), I'd recommend having a go with one first then imagine trying to get your staff down one in an emergency situation..... definitely better than jumping out of the window but not really by a great margin!

I had a go with the roll out type a few years back when we found one in a store room and I couldn't resist it (yes I know....) anyhow no way would I want to be trying to get any number of frightened office workers down one.

Edited by user 29 March 2019 15:00:58(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

thanks 1 user thanked ttxela for this useful post.
jwk on 29/03/2019(UTC)
Messey  
#13 Posted : 31 March 2019 05:07:31(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Messey

I think we are being a bit harsh on Landlords here. They are not shirking from their responsibilities as implied here as they are only required to consider the common parts of a multi tenanted building and not any individual demise within the building. Each tenant is required to complete a fire risk assessment of their area and the escape routes and common parts thier staff may be required to use. 

All parties are required to coordinate and cooperate. Generally speaking (as tenancy agreements may vary) if a tenant occupies a space and then decides he requires additional means of escape, it is down to him to provide that addition MOE and not the landlord.

Roll out or fold out ladders are not acceptable means of escape, other than for a limited amount of persons in usually non occupied spaces such as plant rooms. 

Plus the idea of providing an additional external escape staircase is fraught with planning and technical difficulties (including ensuring that external staircase doesn't pass no fire resisting windows) - and of course there's the huge costs.

AhmedH  
#14 Posted : 03 April 2019 00:15:20(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
AhmedH

I would suggest that a competent person undertake a pre-occupancy fire risk assessment. From the scenario above the building could still be considered compliant even with a single fire exit (there are a number of unknowns). I agree it would be better to have more (although a second exit would be discounted when carrying out occupancy calculation).

A number of elements can come into play, for instance:

If the original building file is available (should have this but often don't) then it will give an indication of the standard it was built to. Let's say it was built to ADB, then an exit width of 1050mm allows me a maximum of 220 persons.

From DCLG guide for offices :"At least two exits should be provided if a room/area is to be occupied by more than 60 persons. This number of 60 can be varied in proportion to the risk; for a lower risk there can be a slight increase, for a higher risk, lower numbers of persons should be allowed." The DCLG does give different exit capacity numbers depending on risk profile as well.

There is some wiggle room in terms of definition of area. Again the scenario above could be deemed to be compliant.

Would expect travel distance to a protected stairway enclosure/final exit/separate fire compartment to be around 18m. 

As Messy says, ladders would not be acceptable for this scenario.

Ultimately if the organisation is unhappy with provisions they do not have to enter into a rental agreement.

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Dave5705 on 03/04/2019(UTC)
firesafety101  
#15 Posted : 04 April 2019 17:00:38(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
firesafety101

Is your client intending to employ people above the ground floor.  If not you may simply close off the first floor, you need then to look at travel distance to the single exit.

If the first floor is going to be used for as many people as you suggest I recommend advising your client to look elsewhere as this is a can of worms.

I can't see a fire safery officer approving a single exit when the first floor is occupied.

I can't see the landlord agreeing to pay for a second means of escape.

Sorry to be so negative but that is my opinion.

Good luck

Littlebeeches  
#16 Posted : 24 April 2019 15:49:32(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Littlebeeches

Thank you all for responding to this question. My client has decided that they are happy to accept the risk on face value. However I have pushed for a formal 3rd party fire risk assessment to be carried out, to allay my concerns.

Further investigations my end also confirmed that roll out escape ladder are no longer considered viable. Landlord has yet to sanction an alternative fire escape, so I will look forward to receiving the assessment report that I can use to support any remedial works.

Edited by user 24 April 2019 15:50:45(UTC)  | Reason: Spelling

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