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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Easy to retrofit fire protection utilised in HMOs

The problem of meeting HMO licensing conditions at the same time as maximising income potential and avoiding unnecessary, costly and time consuming building work for landlords can be resolved by the installation of Plumis Automist, the first active fire protection system that combines low cost and ease of retrofit with excellent aesthetics and which is intended as a less potentially damaging alternative to residential sprinklers. A HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) is a building or a part of a building that is occupied by more than two persons living as more than one household. National guidance on fire safety in residential accommodation applies nationally and adopts a risk-based approach to fire safety that will satisfy both the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The guidance and these laws apply to all landlords, but are more strictly enforced where a landlord licensing scheme is in place. All Local Authorities must run such a scheme for larger HMOs, but a number of councils have now used their powers under part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 to extend this licensing either to all landlords in a problem area, or often to all HMOs.

HMO conditions vary greatly around the country, but it some areas problem layouts are common, with escape routes passing through open plan, communal rooms such as lounge and kitchen areas, which may be situated above ground floor level. Traditionally, these buildings are required to have a thirty minute protected route allowing occupants to escape without the necessity of passing through a risk room, but installing a fire resistant partition would reduce the lettable space and hence the rental value of a property. If current arrangements are such that an open plan, escape route room does not meet this standard, an active fire suppression system should be installed. Until recently, this meant the installation of residential sprinkler systems with all their attendant drawbacks.

Automist is an ideal fire suppression system that complies with licence conditions and is a cost effective alternative to sprinkler systems. It can be installed quickly meaning minimal interference to tenants or damage to the property. There is very little visible equipment and the system provides 24 hour, 365 day protection for tenants in the event of a fire. Significantly, it allows HMO landlords to avoid compromising the design and income potential of the property. Automist uses a high pressure pump to generate a fine water mist from nozzles mounted under a standard tap or can be mounted stand alone on a work top or even a wall. Automist gives designers a number of active fire protection options to protect escape routes and aid evacuation for a fraction of the cost of a traditional sprinkler system or the installation of passive escape routes.

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