How to Overcome Fire Safety Problems with Open Plan Layouts

If you’re looking to create light and a contemporary and spacious way of living, open plan layouts are often the answer. Any home can benefit from a large entertaining and communal space and it can add value however you will still need to comply with building regulations, which can put some limits on what you’re able to build, especially when it comes to fire safety.

Is open plan living a fire risk?

Open Plan Living is where you have larger rooms with few or no dividing walls. Even if planning permission isn’t required you will still need to comply with the building and fire safety regulations also known as Approved Document B (ADB). ADB outlines the set of fire safety standards a building must meet to satisfy law in England and Wales.

Answer the question – Will it be safe to escape if there is a fire?

It depends on which rooms you are combining but be prepared, the more open the layout and the higher your property or your apartment from ground level, the more obstacles you will likely face.

That is why the question you need to answer is, will it be safe to escape if there is a fire?

If you’re going open plan then you’re likely to have rooms, that’s are reached through the main living area, such as a bedroom off a lounge in a flat. They can pose a fire risk because, if a fire starts in the Lumi-Plugin February 2019 Feature Article

access room, there’s no protected escape route from that room through the access room and you could become trapped.

The best way to mitigate this is to fit “Fire Suppression” in the open plan areas so the building user/s can escape through the open plan area. The most effective will be a sprinkler system installed to protect the escape route.

The Lumi-Plugin solution?

Lumi-Plugin recently had a client that wished to extend their privately-owned terraced property in Battersea, London, from 2 floors to 3 floors to gain another bedroom and en-suite.

However, this meant that additional fire safety measures would have been required to be implemented throughout the property due to the increase travel distances in order to comply with Building Regulations.

3 Options were available

1. 60-minute fire resisting stud wall partitioning (£1500) plus6 FD30s fire door sets (£1500) and fire alarms (£450) – estimated at £3450+VAT and labour.

Pros: it would be the cheapest option

Cons: the client would not be able to have the open plan living desired. The stairwell would be an enclosed dark space.

  • • Pyro Glazing throughout the height of the stairwell – replacing the current period banisters and spindles with a wall of fire resisting glazing (£5500-£7000). This would still require he addition of 6 fire doors (£1500) and fire alarms (£450) – estimated at £7450 – £8950 + VAT and labour.

Pros: it would provide the appearance of an open space and maintain fire separation.

Cons: it would lose the period stairwell features and be the most expensive option.

  • • Install a residential fire sprinkler system. This could be achieved using he Lumi-Plugin downlights in conjunction with integrated Rapidrop concealed sprinkler heads and fire alarms (£3800) + VAT and labour. In some cases, the mains water pressure to the dwelling may not be enough, so may require an upgrade to the dwelling’s water supply or require a water tank.

Lumi-Plugin February 2019 Feature Article

Pros: It would provide the client’s requirement for the open plan ground floor and retain the period stairwell features. The fire sprinkler system would act as a compensatory feature allowing for tenable conditions to be maintained throughout the height of the dwelling.

Cons: none

The Chosen Option

As the client wanted to keep the open plan design with the extension, they opted for option three, the Lumi-Plugin system. This enabled the client to be safe in the knowledge that their property would be fully protected and still enable them to take advantage of their ideal design specifications, while simultaneously complying with safety standards.

Sprinklers were used in this instance as a compensatory feature as well as being an unobtrusive option that simplified and streamlined the interior design.

Do you have any questions about the Lumi-Plugin product? We have a FAQ’s section which we would encourage you to check. Otherwise, for any other information not covered or to buy the Lumi-Plugin, please feel free to get in touch.

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