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Loft Conversions: Fire Safety Considerations

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and sound in your new loft room.

Ensuring that your loft conversion is a safe space to live is paramount to any build. You’ll need to make sure that your new loft room complies with building regulations, and fire safety is a big part of this.

A good loft conversion company will guide you through the process, as there’s a bit more involved than just installing a couple of smoke alarms when it comes to loft extensions. Essex homeowners, if you’re converting your loft, here are some of the fire safety aspects that you need to consider:

Escape Routes

All loft conversions need to have a protected escape route from the loft to the ground floor exit. In addition to this, the ‘corridor of escape’ needs to have protection against fire for at least 30 minutes so as to ensure a safe route for anyone needing to use it.

This is actually easier than it sounds. Most loft conversion staircases will come off the main hallway or landing, which should already have built in fire protection, and will therefore provide the escape route. However, they will need to be checked to ensure they comply with building regulations.

Furthermore, loft stairs must be built with 30 minutes of fire resistance in order to protect those within the loft in the event of a fire.

Escape Windows

It’s no longer a requirement to fit specific escape windows within a loft conversion, as there are many other windows on the market nowadays which offer escape route functionality.

They need to be able to open to a minimum of 0.33 metres squared, and at least 450mm high and 450mm wide. Furthermore, just one window is needed between a two room loft conversion provided that both rooms have adequate access to the stairs.

Smoke Alarms

Having said that fire safety within a loft conversion is more than just installing a few smoke alarms, they do still have their place and are of great importance in the overall safety of the loft. There are a few specifics, however, that you’ll need to follow. These are:

• All new smoke alarms fitted as part of a construction or rewire need to be mains wired to overcome the problem of dead batteries.

• One smoke alarm minimum needs to be fitted per floor of the house.

• All smoke alarms need to be interlinked, so that one alarm detects smoke, all of the alarms within the house will sound.

• Smoke alarms must be fitted more than 30cm away from the nearest light fitting, and away from walls. They must be fitted within ‘circulation spaces’ such as hallways, landings and within 7.5m of a habitable room.

• Smoke alarms should always be sited well away from radiator and cooking areas.

Fire Doors

The rules on doors with regards to fire safety change quite frequently. The last update in 2007 stipulated that most doors within a loft conversion need to be replaced with fire doors and must be fire resistant to 20 minutes as standard. These must still be fitted even if there isn’t a specific escape window installed within the loft.

Self-closing hinges are recommended for fire doors, as a fire door which has been wedged open is completely useless. Similarly, intumescent strips should be fitted into the door and the frame, as these swell in the event of fire, which seals off the area that is generating smoke.

The best piece of advice, however, with regards to fire safety within a loft conversion is to take on board the suggestions given to you by your specialist loft conversion company. They will ensure that your new loft room complies with building regulations and is safe and sound against fire. And if you engage Bespoke Lofts, they will do just that.

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