It is important that you can get out of your home in the case of fire. There are two main ways for allowing people to escape from a building. One is to provide a protected internal escape route (with fire resistant doors), the other is to have escape windows. Domestic houses tend to have escape windows, whereas commercial properties use protected escape routes. Domestic houses often have fire resistant doors and a fire compartment wall to separate the garage from the house, and they will normally use a protected staircase where a 3rd story is included (e.g. for a loft conversion).
Fire Escape – Domestic Dwellings
For new build, Building Regulations say that each habitable room (i.e. not a kitchen bathroom or cupboard) above the ground floor needs a fire escape window.
Regulations for the ground floor also apply for any room that doesn’t either directly open onto the hallway or have an external door unless there is a protected fire escape route.
When replacing windows, it’s advisable to fit escape windows that meet the requirements of the Building Regulations for a new build property where possible. If the current windows are smaller than the required size, you must not reduce the size of the openings (we would recommend increasing the size to the minimum fire escape opening sizes where possible).
No one wants to be trapped in a fire however, so it would always be better to increase the size for every habitable room to at least the minimum dimensions required by Building Regulations. We would recommend that you confirm that your installer intends to do this, especially as double glazing will be difficult to break if you need to get out in an emergency.
It’s worth considering your escape strategy when you’re installing your windows and once they’re installed, make sure that you always keep the route clear.
What is a fire escape window?
A fire escape window has an unobstructed opening big enough for an adult to climb out of. That’s because in the event of a fire, your windows act as a means of escape if you can’t use the normal way out.
How big should a fire escape opening be?
The diagram below shows the minimum dimensions that are required for a new build property. There must be a minimum clear (or unobstructed) opening width of 450mm, a minimum clear opening height of 450mm, and a minimum clear opening area of 0.33m2
Fire Escape – Non-Domestic
Commercial buildings (e.g. hospitals, schools, public buildings etc) limit the spread of fire by keeping it compartmentalised, allowing people time to escape from the building. Details of our fire door scheme can be found here, and schemes for installation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors and fire stopping schemes can be found here.
Panic exit doorsets allow people to exit the building in an emergency. Details of our scheme for CE Marking of panic exit doorsets can be found here.