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Fire Escape routes

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Hi all,


I've looked through various government body websites and as well as places like ARLA and can't seem to find an official answer and most places just state " Check you have access to escape routes at all times".


Basically the council have been spot checking property in an area where we have a rental. They couldn't find anything wrong with the house, everything had the correct certs etc. The letter did state however that "The only means of escape is via a high risk room. Fit a fire escape window on the 1st floor".

The property is a fairly standard terrace house. Front door leading to a living room, kitchen/diner at the back, stairs leading from that to two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. The property does have an accessible back garden where you can exit to an alleyway round the back of the row of houses.


What are the rules regarding fire escapes and does the council have the power to demand we install a fire escape window?


Apart from anything we have 2 other rentals of similar layouts and whilst the other councils don't seem to be spot checking if it is now best practice i'd like to get ahead of the game and fit before we're told to and certainly now there's a question that not doing so may be putting tenants needlessly at risk!



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I believe a fire escape window is one that opens wide enough for a person to climb out of in an emergency. Whether the council has the power to make you install one or not is a pretty moot point - do you want to be responsible for tenants dying in your priory in the event of a fire because they can't get out of a window?

If in doubt as to what they want you to do ask them - that way you can be sure not to fall foul of their regulations.

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I agree with Julia. The council are right. A sitting room is high risk hence why in Scotland we need smoke detectors in them (not sure if that's law in England too). Also, every new house (Scotland again) must have a fully opening window in each bedroom upstairs to allow an escape. It cannot have a lock on it (which amazes me when house insurance companies increase your premium because of this!).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Have a look at LACORS fire safety guide. Its what a lot of local authorities & Fire Authorities look to as a guide.


In the case of your place it says  (s34) ' the escape route should have sound, conventional construction and should not pass through risk rooms No requirement for fire doors note 5, but sound, well constructed and close-fitting conventional doors are required. Alternatively, provide suitable escape windows from bedrooms and living rooms'


(s14) 'Any window provided for emergency escape purposes should have an unobstructed openable area that is at least 0.33m² and have a minimum 450mm height and 450mm width. The bottom of the openable area should not be more than 1,100mm above the floor.' 

Theres also more requirements for escape windows, so have a read of  section 14 of the guide.

Pretty sure that's your answer.

(The guide also tells you what alarm system you should have)


oh - and yes, the council could serve an improvement notice on you under the HHSRS (and give you a big bill for the notice!), which forces you to do it.


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