The story of one mans epic flue guard build…
As I’ve previously mentioned, with the flue from the multi-fuel stove running through the second bedroom without being boxed in or otherwise closed off there was a need to provide a guard in order to conform with building regulations Document J section 1.45. The flue requires a long, tall, open-topped guard and with no suitable shop bought options and my internet searches yielding no made to measure options, do-it-yourself was the only option.
The guard is constructed from perforated steel sheets and aluminium bars, that have been cut to size with a combination of a hack saw and a disk cutter then stuck together with a resin ‘welding’ paste. It all sits on a wooden plinth.
One important addition was the sloping top that stops you from using the angles at the top of the guard as shelving or to hang discarded clothing from thereby introducing a fire risk (as was the tendency before the sloping top was added).
After hours of cutting, sticking, clamping and waiting – Done!
An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety
Part B is about ensuring that all new buildings are safe in the event of a fire.
As of the date of writing, Part B was last revised in 2010 as a result of the Building Regulations 2010.
Part B is split into two volumes. Volume 1 deals with dwelling houses and volume 2 with buildings other than dwelling houses.
The regulations provide guidance in areas such as fire safety in multi-storey buildings & domestic loft conversions, smoke and heat alarms, the use of door-closing devices and sprinklers, the materials used in the structure and the building methods employed.
Both volumes of the regulations contain the following requirements:
- B1 Means of warning and escape
- B2 Internal fire spread (linings)
- B3 Internal fire spread (structure)
- B4 External fire spread
- B5 Access and facilities for the fire and rescue service
Pertinent to the barn are the requirements for escape from the upper storey. Specifically in the second bedroom, where I’ve had to change the window hinge (although I’m not sure where the need to open to 90 degrees comes from explicitly as I can’t find it in Part B) and install a radiator cover to provide a step-up to the window and a means of escape. For reference, a window suitable for egress from the building must be at least 0.33m2 and at least 450mm in height and width, the bottom of the openable area of the window must be not more than 1100mm above the floor.
Forthcoming Welsh sprinklers regulations
In Wales there is an additional future requirement in relation to fire safety just over the horizon. From September 2013, the Welsh Assembly government (WAG) intend to make the installation of water sprinkler systems compulsory in all new homes. They expect this to save 36 lives and prevent an estimated 800 injuries between 2013 and 2022.
The Assembly will proceed with the plans despite a report from the built environment research organisation BRE Global that estimated that the cost per life saved would be £6.7 million and concluded that “fitting sprinklers in all new residential buildings in Wales would not be cost effective“.
WAG Environment Minister John Griffiths said:
“We must seek to prevent avoidable death and injury from house fires and need to accept that there is a cost to introducing sprinklers into new properties.
These proposals are significant and important in taking forward fire safety.
Wales will be at the forefront of reducing fire risk and cutting the number of avoidable deaths and injuries caused by fires in residential premises.”
The Assembly is currently working on development of the new regulations that are necessary to introduce the new sprinkler law. These will be subject to public consultation.
As mentioned in previous progress reports, I’ve been working a fire-guard to go around the flue that runs through the second bedroom. The purpose of the guard is to stop anyone (small children) and anything (paper, clothing etc.) from accidentally coming into contact with the flue when a fire is burning and the flue is hot and thus getting burnt or setting alight. I couldn’t find an off-the-shelf (or hearth) solution that fit the bill so decided to make my own from perforated sheet metal, aluminium ‘L’ shaped strips and a wooden base. The parts are all attached together using a resin based ‘welding’ gel (two tubes of paste that you mix together, apply to the surfaces you want to join and allow to set) bought from eBay.
Hopefully it will also conform to building reg’s, the relevant regulation – Document J Building Regs 2010, section 1.45, (heavily edited) states:
‘where a chimney passes through a … storage space … providing a guard…’
It wasn’t a cheap solution, although I guess cheaper than the alternatives, each of the perforated sheets was over £40, but I think it does the job and looks acceptable.
Something I’m grateful to the planners for is the internal flue from the stove. If I’d had an option, without thinking, I’d probably have placed it outside running up the wall externally and in doing so lost an awful lot of heat. Instead, as required by the planners (my plans didn’t show where the flue ran and I was ‘informed’ that a reapplication for an external flue was likely to be rejected) it runs internally and keeps the bedroom (more of a store room at the moment) that it passes through lovely and warm with heat we’d otherwise have lost.
I was originally worried that it would be an eye-sore, but I quite like it – an industrial touch in a rural setting.
In my slow, intermittent, literary stroll through Roger Deakin’s Notes from Walnut Tree Farm I stumbled across another quotation that I couldn’t help but agree with…
I really do want people to come home to a real fire. A nation without the flames of a fire in the hearth, and birds singing outside the open window, has lost its soul. To have an ancient carboniferous forest brought to life at the centre of your home, its flames budding and shooting up like young trees, is a work of magic.
Read more – Notes from Walnut Tree Farm on page 155.
While keeping a fire fuelled and clean can be time-consuming, dirty work (I would have said ‘expensive’ as well, but with energy costs as they currently are I’m not sure that applies any more) I think it’s worthwhile effort to bring some ‘soul’ into the home…