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Fire Engine Access to a House in a Valley


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Hello all. I'm not in the Fire Fighting sector. I am converting a Mill into a house and would like your thoughts on Fire Engine access if possible?

The building regs man seems unsure what to do. Access is tricky as in a valley and steep track up a field. 100m track to building. 50m from Road at closest point. Local fire chief refuses to talk to me but told the regs man if I don't sort the drive, I need sprinklers...

  • Is it unreasonable to link up a few hoses? 
  • Would the stream near the building help?
  • Could I fit a hydrant near the building and buy a hose?

Not keen on sprinklers or misting devices through fear of accidental activation.

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Have the local Building Control or Fire Service explained the purpose of the proposed water mist system? 

As you may be aware, in England & Wales you will have to satisfy conditions in 'Approved Document B' of the Building Regulations. ADB provides 'Functional Requirements' section (in a green box) at the beginning of each section. This is the law. You must achieve this requirement standards . They are pretty generic, just a statement of intent. The remainder of each section of ADB provides guidance  as to how to  achieve compliance with the functional requirements. 

Where it is not possible to apply a recommended solution from within ADB, a bespoke 'engineered' solution may be possible as long as you can prove it will achieve  the functional requirements of that section (are you still with me?!)

I have heard of numerous occasions where sprinklers or water mist systems are used to meet Means of Escape problems in dwellings, but never for providing water supplies. This comes under B5 of ADB. The Functional Requirements of B5 require you to construct your building 'so to provide reasonable facilities to assist firefighters in the protection of life'

 B5 requires you to provide the tools to allow the firefighters to do their job re life saving. That may be an access road, water supplies, and in a taller building, fire resisting staircases and ventilation systems.  A water mist systems does not strictly fall into the 'give FFs the tools to do the job' definition. So you may wish to appeal this decision. But water mist may provide time for you to self escape and it will buy some time for the fire service to reach you - for example by laying 100m of hose up the drive.

You should have an indication on your BC paperwork as to the section of ADB they are referring to when they want a water mist. That may help you if you want to fight this

I noted you talk about installing a hydrant. Private hydrants are necessary sometimes, but not in your case. They are useless unless you can get a fire appliance nearer the house. Plus the cost of installing and maintaining it would almost certainly be more than a water mist system. All of your other suggestions are  unacceptable

Please do have a look at water mist. A British Standard compliant system should be resilient re leaks and false activations. The only real risk is someone in the house bashing it with a ladder or when cleaning/decorating. If you keep the isolator valve accessible, the water damage from such a rare event would be minimal as water mist systems use minimal water. They do not activate like in Hollywood movies!!!!

Water mist systems may be your only option.

As far as your local Fire Service not wanting to communicate with you, frankly you must insist they do. Clause 14.13 of section B5 says they must be consulted where you are considering alternative water supplies. 

ADB is accessible here. Section B5 starts on page 97.

Good luck

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Messyshaw, thanks so much for thus reply. You have explained my position really well. You have also shown how the sprinkler system doesn't really fix the access problem. I have contacted building control again and he has been very quiet. I will update as soon as I hear anything. Thanks for pointing me at all of the correct docs. Rob

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Just be very careful as instead of a water mist system at a few £, installing a hydrant or widening the access will cost many times that amount

Goodness knows why the BC and fire service are being so quiet

Good luck 

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