It is a normal thing to worry about what you should do if a fire breaks out in your loft or attic. Lofts and attics are usually an afterthought when it comes to safety. They are one of the more enclosed and difficult places to make it out of in any home.
This can be a scary thought, given that anyone, including yourself, can start a fire. In such a case, how would you know? It is not wise for you to wait for the smoke to reach your nose before you realise there is a problem.
Rather, it is better to be proactive and find yourself an escape plan that will be reliable in a fire breaking out. To do so, you will need knowledge of fire detection systems and their legislation.
Fire Regulations for Loft Conversions
Let us talk about what you need to know about what the law says.
Fire Escape Route
If you have a loft, then you will need to design a fire escape for you and anybody who might be in there with you. This route will need protection. By this, I mean that in the event of a fire that route should not catch fire.
It should allow you easy access through to safety for at least 30 minutes. Anything shorter could be too late to get out for the average person. If you use the staircase, you need to ensure it's reinforced with fireproof materials.
It's required by law that you should also have a window available for you or someone else to use. If you decide that you wish to make your fire escape point the window, then you need to meet special conditions. You will need to ensure that the window is larger than 450mm.
This is the size deemed okay for people to exit the building through without getting burnt in the event of a fire. You should also ensure that these windows do not make use of locking handles. If there is fire and the lock melts, there will be no way to touch it without suffering severe burns.
It is not a need, but you're advised to get a fire-resistant glass to install on your windows if possible. These protect your windows from going black meaning people from the outside can see if you need help. They will also not be too hot to touch should you need to open the window.
You should also put up instructions on how to open the window in the event of a fire. This will help people to calm down should a fire break out. These are all tiny things, but it can be the difference between life and death in the case of a desperate situation.
Something many people are unaware of before they move into a loft is that all doors need to be fire safe. They need to pass fire safety recommendations to meet building safety requirements. It is not uncommon that lazy landlords may ignore this, but it is a serious hazard.
You will find that all doors in the loft may need changing if they aren't fire safe. Think of a scenario where you are trying to exit the loft, and the door is one fire. That would be very inconvenient.
Where to fit smoke alarms in a loft?
Installing a fire alarm is the best route that you can take. Early detection could not only save your life but could also save your entire loft. If you find the fire on time, you can put it out yourself or get on the phone to the fire department.
According to legislation you should have at least one fire alarm on every level of your house. You will need to ensure they're connected to ring should any of them go off. This will allow people in different parts of the loft to react.
Do I need a fire escape ladder for a Velux window?
You will need to make use of a fire escape ladder if you have a Velux window. This is because you will want to protect yourself from injury. If you have a fire ladder, you will not need to jump from the window’s height to the ground.
The distance may not be so high but think of any older people you may have in the loft at the time. They might struggle with such a jump. If possible, you should invest in this ladder to allow for safe passage for elderly and children if need be.
The Technical Specifications for placing smoke alarms in a loft
1. You will need to ensure that there is a heat alarm in an area where the food's prepared. This is an area like the kitchen. This is important to protect the staircase, which is a fire escape point.
2. You need to ensure a power supply hidden from any potential fire-starting areas.
3. Alarms must all connect to ring if one goes off. This is to inform everyone in the house of the fire.
4. You will need to ensure that on each storey there is a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are different from heat as smoke travels through the house whilst heat not. Hence you would put a heat sensor in the areas where a fire will start and smoke alarm where you think it could travel to.
The difference between making it out of a fire hazard and rarely comes down to preparation. Part of that is having a route and an action plan. What do you do in the event of a fire while you are in your converted loft or attic?
Your response should be a no-brainer. These high-pressure situations make it difficult to make the right decision. Take as much of the decision making out of the plan as possible.
It is as important to consider the time it would take you to make it out. You want to keep that as low as possible.
The final thing to remember is to test the route options out. It does not only commit it to memory, but it also helps find any flaws in the plan.
About The Author
Reece Thompson: Reece has been involved in property in one way or another for the past 10 years. He's gained a lot of experience when it comes to the home, kitchen and garden. He shares his knowledge with enthusiasm and honesty.