AFSS Ltd were call in by our school academy client, to assess a number of older school buildings which ranged, from single to three storey. A number of these were identified as CLASP type buildings ( Consortium of Local Authority Special Programme) erected mainly in the 60’s and 70’s and managed by Local Authorities. These were a cheaper way to provide much needed education accommodation, some of which were for used as residential students.
CARE HOME PROJECT
During our invasive assessment of the fire compartmentation, we discovered numerous areas of non compliant voids, gaps and pipework and cable penetrations through compartment walls at all levels, particular the walls running the full height of the protected staircase. On a more detailed examination, it was clear that there was a requirement for fire stopping in all of these areas and also to provide replacement double fire doors at all levels.
The fire strategy prior to our visits, had not considered the poor fire compartmentation and the higher numbers of students using a number of the classrooms. The tallest building comprising of three floors, which was provided with two internal staircases, with a capacity to accommodate the total numbers of students from all three floors, should an evacuation be required, was found to have little or no fire separation between the two staircases, particularly on the upper floors. This meant that should a fire have occurred, both staircases would have been severely compromised, leaving an extremely dangerous condition that had not been considered.
After reviewing the strategy and giving sound professional advice, Active Fire Safety Solutions were awarded the contract to ensure both staircases were separated from the remainder of the building with a minimum 30 minutes fire resistance. Site inspections were carried out at regular intervals during the four-week upgrade period. The skill, dedication and sheer determination of our team of fire stoppers, gained access to some incredibly tight spaces to fulfil the terms of the contract and to allow us to issue a certificate of compliance, for both materials used and as importantly the practical installation, which was then ‘signed off’ independantly.
RESIDENTIAL CARE HOME PROJECT
After checking fire compartment sizes, roof spaces and the alignment of fire compartments on the upper floors, it soon became apparent that both buildings had major faults and a very high risk to life.
A detailed fire risk assessment was carried out on both buildings and the results presented to the senior management team, who were astounded that over eight years no other company had identified the list of major faults, especially as both the building control officer and Fire officer had signed the building off before use, over eight years previously.
It took a great deal of time and effort to form a strategy to resolve all the issues identified within the fire risk assessment and these included to name but a few:
1. No smoke control with ventilation ducting linking bedrooms and lounges
2. Fusible link operated fire dampers
3. Large fire compartments of up to 10 beds in sleeping areas on upper floors
4. Out of line fire compartments in the roof space and missing fire barriers
5. Holes in top floor ceilings between the top floor and the roof spaces and no fire hoods to ceiling lights
6. Lift shafts not capped off correctly with fire resisting materials
7. Fire curtains ripped and very poorly installed.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, but AFSS Ltd presented factual evidence on the state this eight-year-old building was in from a fire safety perspective. The conditions were dangerous and AFSS Ltd decided to issue an internal ‘dangerous conditions’ letter to the client explaining the situation.