Fire safety


The means of escape from typical 1 or 2 storey houses are relatively simple to provide with the specified provisions being:

  • Suitable means provided for emergency egress from each storey.
  • Adequate means of giving warning in event of fire provided.

Two storey houses

  • Habitable rooms on the upper storey to have an emergency egress window with an unobstructed openable area of at least 0.332m² ie. 740mm x 450mm positioned not more than 1100mm above the floor.
  • Habitable rooms (not kitchens) should open directly on to a hallway leading to the final exit or they are to be provided with emergency egress windows (size as above).
  • Rooms which open only through another room (inner rooms) could cause problems for persons if a fire starts in the outer room - this situation arises in open plan layouts. This design is only acceptable for kitchens, utility rooms, bathrooms / toilets and rooms on ground and first floor levels with emergency egress windows.

Emergency egress windows / doors should allow people escaping to reach a place free from danger - preferably away from the dwelling but in some cases a large garden area can be considered.

Means of early warning

The installation of smoke alarms or automatic fire detection / alarm systems can significantly increase the level of safety by giving an early warning of fire to the occupants.

Smoke alarms to be mains operated on a dedicated electrical circuit with a secondary power supply.

Smoke alarms to be positioned in circulation areas between sleeping spaces; in places where fires are most likely to start such as kitchens or living rooms, to pick up smoke in the early stages of a fire. They should also be close enough to bedroom doors to be effective when people are asleep.

One smoke alarm per storey.

  • If more than one alarm is used - they have to be interconnected so that detection of smoke in one unit operates the alarm signal in all units.
  • Smoke detectors to be sited in circulation areas within 7.5m of doors to all habitable rooms.

Heat detectors are recommended in kitchens.

  • Detectors to be ceiling mounted and at least 300mm from light fittings.
  • Not to be fitted near heaters or air conditioning units.
  • Not to be fitted in bathrooms, garages where steam or fumes could give rise to false alarms.
  • To be positioned to make maintenance easy and safe - maintenance is the responsibility of the occupant.

Risk areas

Attached garages - they are to be separated from the house by half-hour fire resistant construction.

Doors giving access from garages to the house must achieve the same level of fire resistance and be self-closing - the door must be a minimum of 100mm above he level of the garage floor to prevent any leakage of petrol vapour into the house.

Windows situated in the wall between the garage and house must also afford the same degree of fire resistance.

The passage of any pipes or ventilating ducts through the walls or floors separating the garage from the house must be encased in fire resistant construction to prevent any fire spread.

Many households choose to extend into their loft space.

This provides specific problems in relation to fire. Please refer to the guide to extending your home.