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Does The Current ADB Design Of Single Stair Residential Buildings Adequately Protect The Stair During Firefighting Operations

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If we are to continue building high rise single stair residential buildings, why are we not designing them with added protection to the stair?

Constructing single stair residential buildings with a single door between the corridor/lobby of the flats and the stair does not adequately protect the stair during fire.

By providing the firefighting rising water main in the stair, this means that the stair door is wedged in the open position as firefighting hose is laid through the door. Any products of combustion leaving a flat can easily enter the stair.

Generic Risk Assessment 3.2 Fighting fires –In high rise buildings (GRA 3.2) states: “Contingency plans for particular premises should cover:

  • fire spread beyond the compartment of origin and the potential for multiple rescues
  • an operational evacuation plan being required in the event the ‘Stay Put’ policy becomes untenable”.

BS 8629:2019 gives recommendations to provide facilities that can initiate an evacuation alert signal in flats that are designed on the basis of a “stay put” strategy.

An ‘Alternative’ design is proposed with an unventilated central lobby that will increase the safety for occupants and firefighters and will:

  1. Support relocating rising water main outlets from the stair into the lobby.
  2. Give firefighters the option to fight the fire from the fire floor, whilst simultaneously protecting the stair.
  3. Create an area of positive pressure within the lobby from where firefighters are entering relative to the vented flats corridor/lobby. Products of combustion are thus drawn away from advancing firefighters and their entry/exit point.

See also further research by Paul Grimwood PhD; FIFireE – Principal Fire Safety Engineer at Kent Fire & Rescue