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#1 Posted : 11 February 2019 16:24:01(UTC)
Rank: New forum user

Hi All

I am currently at logger heads with one of my directors over the need for 2 means of access on a 22 floor single stair core building during the construction phase of the project.

I have sourced information from both the JCOP 9th Edition & HSG 168 2nd edition, both give guidance stating that, & I quote, 'Two means of access must be available from the structure at all times, including from any basement area & roof'. 

I am of the understanding that one means of access in an emergency situation should be for the sole use of the emergency services, whilst the other is to be used for safe access out of the building. 

The issues that I am having are,  I have advised to use an external HAKI Staircase for the alternate access, whilst my director is insisiting that the electrically powered matrials hoist is an adequate means of access to use in an emergency situation.

My arguement is that you cannot rely on mechanicaly powered machinery in this type of instance due to the possibilty that it make cease to work due to the circumstance of the emergency, for example a possible fire.

The director is also stating that by compartmentating each floor is also an adequate means of protection during the construction phase, taking away the need for two means of access. Again my argument is that this is also a requirement for any structure over 10 storey's high but is not an alternative means of fire protection & the need for two means of access is still required.

If anyone else has had to deal with a similiar situation I would love to hear how you dealt with it & any advise on how to deal with this situation would be greatly appreciated. I am more than certain that the method my director is advising is in breach of my company's insurance requirements

Thanks Guys

#2 Posted : 12 February 2019 11:29:45(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

I have not done a 22 storey building so I am not speaking with much authority. I thought there was scope for a fire engineered solution as well as a prescribed solution.

My understanding is an alternative means of escape is not required if you can ensure that there is an adequate single escape route that will not be compromised by the build. So in a 22 storey building I would expect to see a fire strategy for the construction produced by a fire consultant e.g. qualified and charted fire engineer and not just a fire risk assessment.

The fire strategy should take account of the construction method (steel, concrete etc.), different stages of construction and detail the requirements for the single escape route and additional mitigation. For example the escape route (stair core) must be compartmented including fire doors, have emergency lighting and may require early installation of the automatic smoke vents. Mitigation could include sprinklers/dry risers, integrated fire & smoke alarm, full fire drill etc.

A fire engineered solution could involve a hoist but I suspect it will required a backup generator.  The more complex the build the greater the risk and the more mitigation, which is not always the cheapest option, a HAKI Staircase may be cheaper. Travel distances are also vital.

#3 Posted : 12 February 2019 12:05:29(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

I have experience of fire risk assessment in construction but not high rise so I may not have the answer, however, here goes.

During construction works the building will change every day so requiring fire risk assessment to be reviewed and revised as the work goes along.  I did road tunnel works a few years ago, 2 miles of tunnel with exits and refuges that were compromised as the work proceeded along the road.  3 FRAs every week.

I 'assume' your tower will be similar but not the same.

Your fire risk assessment will be in accordance to the regulations (rrfso) with construction fire documents as well.  Whatever those documents 'require' is what you MUST do and you need to impress upon your Director you are doing everything in accordance with the guidance you have.

I'm sure all concerned with the Grenfell Tower refurbishment works thought the same as your Director.  You could possible throw that one in.

Means of escape should consider the numbers and type of people present at any one time,  If the single stairway is a protected Route (as previous reply) it may be acceptable but you will need to constantly check that route to ensure it is not compromised by the works. 

Remember the FRS is not responsible for rescues, that is for the RP so you will need rescue plans with appropriate people available, and rescuing injured people can obstruct the single stairway.

#4 Posted : 12 February 2019 14:34:29(UTC)
Rank: New forum user

Thanks for the feedback guys,

Your response & advice is very much appreciated.

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