Apartment in Devonshire Place, Regents Park, London.

My client wished to omit a lobby to the exit from her two-storey flat onto the common stair of the 6-storey building. The building control authority had suggested that in the absence of an intrusive internal lobby a fire shutter should be used to protect against effluent getting onto the common stair should a fire occur in her flat – a lobby is a normal regulatory requirement in multi-storey blocks of flats. I was able to argue that because there was only one flat at higher storey level (due to the strange internal planning configuration) which might be affected then, provided a ‘mixed’ fire detection and alarm system complying with BS 5839-6 was installed (there was none at the time of my inspection) and the flat entrance door was upgraded with fire and smoke seals, it was reasonable to assume that all flat occupants could safely escape down the common stair. An important compensating feature was the high-ceilinged, capacious hall and staircase which would take longer than normal to fill with fire effluent. I also recommended that a formal fire risk assessment of the common parts be made according to the RRFSO and this was done, and gave guidance how the historic flat entrance door could have its fielded mahogany panels upgraded to possess half hour fire resistance.

Client: private owner