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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Means of Escape – Part 126

November 29, 2021 1:17 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 125, LWF discussed means of escape by beginning to look at the three stages of escape. In part 126, we continue to discuss means of escape and stage one of the three stages of escape.

Stage 1: Travel within rooms (continued)

As mentioned in part 125, inner rooms within buildings have the option of either a clear vision panel between inner and access rooms; a space between the top of the partitions between the rooms; or automatic smoke detection in the access room to give early warning to occupants of the inner room.

Installing a vision panel in the inner room is the most traditionally utilised option. It should be ensured that the panel is of sufficient size and located suitably to allow inner room occupants to view the access room clearly, in case a fire was to start in the access room.

In instances where automatic detection systems are used instead of a vision panel, consideration should be shown in buildings with a ‘staff alarm’ arrangement to ensure that any delays in providing a general evacuation signal do not adversely impact the warning given to occupants of the inner room.

Stage 2: Travel to a storey exit

  • Corridors with alternative means of escape

In order to provide appropriate means of escape for cellular accommodation where there are corridors with alternative means of escape, there should be certain measures taken.

Each room should have a door fitted which can be closed so that smoke movement in the early stages of a fire can be prevented. The door does not necessarily need to be fire resistant or self-closing, unless the corridor in question is a protected corridor.

The enclosing walls or partitions of the corridor need not be fire-resisting or extend above false ceilings unless there is sleeping accommodation or the corridors form part of escape routes from different occupancies in premises with multiple occupation. The enclosing walls should extend to a false ceiling to prevent smoke movement in the early stages of fire, however.

Measurement of total travel distance continues and a limitation of the total distance within stages 1 and 2 applies.

The minimum corridor width should be adequate for the number of occupants. A typical figure is 1.05 m, but codes provide more information for specific circumstances.

In part 127 of this series, LWF will continue to look at corridors with alternative means of escape as part of Stage 2: Travel to a storey exit. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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