Fire safety advice for Listed flat near Hyde Park, London W2

A 6-storey terraced house had been divided into flats.  My client, the owner of a middle flat, discovered that the secondary fire escape stair inside the building leading to the roof which had existed for many years and been approved by the local authority, had been cut off by the flat owner above. My job was to assess the fire safety risk introduced by the absence of the secondary fire escape route and come forward with a recommendation; the primary escape route was a common internal staircase leading to the ground floor entrance.  I inspected the building and considered that the only option (and a very poor option) for occupants of the middle flat if the common staircase became smoke logged was to stay in place (perhaps on a small open terrace outside the flat) and await rescue by the fire service using a turntable ladder; this option assumed that there would be great difficulties getting the secondary escape stair re-established. This option was unacceptable to the client. The Listing meant that additional structural or smoke control measures to make the single stair safe would almost certainly not be permitted. The risk of fall from the terrace was great and it would be perilous for anyone not fully mobile to get onto a ladder. The building had not been constructed as purpose built flats and it was considered unsafe to adopt a stay in place strategy.  The building did not (at the time of my inspection) have a fire risk assessment made for the common parts as required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order)2005, though the fire service had  recommended that one should be made. It was clear that, apart from the internal secondary escape issue, work needed to be done in the common parts to improve the fire precautions. I prepared a comprehensive report after examining many different options finally recommending that the secondary escape route for the middle flat occupants be reinstated, and eventually the offending flat owner agreed. I also made the fire risk assessment for the common parts.

Client: private owner