19 Jun Fire safety in Basements
In our last blog we answered the question we get asked the most – will my basement flood – we spoke about how to avoid and solve damp issues in your basement.
This time around we thought we should address the second most asked question we get – what happens if there is a fire? In the wake of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, it has been brought to public attention just how important fire safety is. Whether you live in a tower block like Grenfell or in a detached house in the countryside – Fire regulations are there to keep you and your family safe.
One of the benefits engaging professional basement design specialists for your project is that we know what works! We are the best placed people to advise you on what can be done vs. your wish list. Many of our clients want their basements to be big open plan areas full of light and space.
Open plan living is ever popular but it does present a higher risk in terms of fire, in particular when other habitable rooms are accessed from this area. There are generally two factors to consider, and that is the ‘means of escape’ which is basically safe passage to the outside, the other is the material element that allows the time to escape i.e. Fire doors and fire resistant walls.
For open plan areas without fire doors and walls there are fire regulation compliant products that will provide you with the required means of escape and safe passage to the outside, these include:
Automist systems. This is a system of spray heads built into the basement lining walls which is triggered in the event of fire allowing safe passage to the outside – this system causes less damage than a sprinkler system and it is less complicated to install. The spray heads will provide you with the time you need to escape safely.
There are also concealed fire & smoke curtain systems which can be built flush into ceiling cavities, when activated they will travel horizontally allowing time for escape to the outside while containing any fire & smoke to that area.
Fully glazed doors and side panels are often specified in protected areas, these would be manufactured in fire resistant glass and proof certified by the manufacturer. Using glass gives the desired effect of open space, allowing more light into enclosed areas and gives reasonable resistance to sound travel.
All our basement designs provide a secondary alternative means of escape via the light wells. The designated lightwell will have a ladder and access via a hatch if a grille is used.
While these measures can save your life they are no substitute for being vigilant. Make sure your smoke alarms work, avoid overloading electrical sockets and ensure your appliances are working correctly. For more tips on staying safe in your home visit the London Fire Brigade website.
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Feature image – Successo