Fire safety design of proposed Working Men’s Club affordable housing, Erith.

I was asked to look at the fire safety design for use by wheelchair users who are to be accommodated on the first floor of this proposed building of affordable housing. The building comprises 5 storeys above ground providing 40 units of accommodation. On the ground floor is car parking within the footprint of the building above. There is no accommodation at ground floor level. The plan was to house disabled persons on the first floor but there were no designated refuges for disabled persons. The only option is for wheelchair-users to stay in place and await rescue by the fire service if the evacuation lift is not working. It is noted that it is not accepted policy for the fire and rescue service to assist in evacuation (evacuation is not the same as rescue). Evacuation chairs have to rely on a buddy to assist in its use, but in this premises of separate units it was difficult to see how a buddy system would work. I made a number of recommendations which accepted that a stay-in-place strategy could reluctantly be adopted together with a number of other features including designated refuges next to the two well-positioned escape stairs, enhanced fire alarm and detection, fire safety management, and an evacuation strategy approved by the local fire service.

Client: Bowsall Limited, London