Reality of home fires
The recent events at Grenfell Tower, tragically illustrated the importance to specifiers and users alike, of obtaining the correct specification for the job at hand. This applies no less to small domestic building adaptations where separating fire barriers are removed and floor structures exposed to failure through fire. Every year in the UK, there are around 600 deaths and 18,000 injuries from house fires, these are frightening statistics and is a very concerning area. Most fire deaths occur in the home and happen before the fire brigade arrive. The average response time for the Fire Brigade across the UK now is 9 minutes. In a typical house, a fire in a lounge could take less than 30 seconds to reach flashover, engulfing the room with intense flame and fatal smoke.
NIST fire flashover demonstration
Fire safety of home occupants
When considering the installation of any through floor lift (whether the lift car is enclosed or unenclosed, with no liftway, or a liftway involved) the primary areas of concern must be: –
- Will the horizontal fire separation which existed prior to the adaptation be adequately replaced?
- Will the structure around the lift area be adequately protected in the event of fire?
Greg Gnyp, Engineering Director of Terry Lifts (expert in European and UK Lift Standards and lead engineer in the Terry Lifts fire test programme) states;
“It is imperative that any specified product and product installation must demonstrate full compliance with the Machinery Directive, Building Regulations and BS5900:2012, all of which have been written with the safety of the building occupiers and emergency services in mind.
Furthermore as every site will differ it is imperative that the local Building Control Officer has conducted a site visit to ensure structural alterations and fire protections are to standard.”
What Fire Protection Certification do I need to check for, when purchasing a home lift?
Any professional manufacturer will be able to present fire test certificates from an approved accredited laboratory, together with Notified Body certification showing compliance with BS5900:2012 (or it’s relevant parts in the case of enclosed through floor lifts). Without these documents and without the involvement of Building Control the risk of a dangerous solution is significantly increased. Be safe – buy wisely and ensure compliance and your comfort.
NIST demonstrates a flashover fire in a living room with a Christmas tree. Photograph: NIST, Fire research division