An HMO, or House in Multiple Occupancy, is a building or part of a building that is occupied by more than two people living as more than one household. An HMO may be a house that is divided into bedsits or shared student accommodation, a flat share premises and, in some cases, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation. Simply put, if at least three tenants live in a residential property and share common areas such as a bathroom, kitchen or even a stairway or landing, then it is considered an HMO.
HMO Fire Detection Requirements
Landlords of HMOs have a legal obligation to carry out fire risk assessments and take action to minimise the risk of fire. In most circumstances, this will include ensuring that suitable fire detection is in place and, in larger properties, that fire extinguishers are available. Landlords who fail to comply with fire safety regulations not only put the lives of their tenants and their properties at risk but also face the possibility of hefty fines.
What are the risks?
With an HMO comes an increased risk of fire. You are six times more likely to die in a fire living in an HMO compared with a single-family house, and you are sixteen times more at risk of fatal injury if the HMO is three or more storeys high.
The risk of fire increases with greater occupancy. Some of the most common causes of fire in HMO properties include:
- Electrical faults caused by overloaded sockets
- Cigarettes that have not been adequately extinguished
- Cookers that are faulty or not properly maintained
- Heaters and that are faulty or not properly maintained
What are the challenges?
Landlords can be faced with many challenges when ensuring HMOs are sufficiently protected from fire.
Whether they are converting an existing single occupancy dwelling to cater for multiple tenants, updating an existing fire alarm system in one of their properties, or perhaps hastily trying to bring their fire system up-to-date to comply with regulations, they all may experience similar challenges:
- Limited access to rooms
Private rooms may be difficult to access, limiting the time that installers can gain entry.
- Disruption caused to tenants
Installing fire detectors and cabling throughout the property can be time-consuming and cause a lot of disruption to tenants that reside in the property.
In larger HMO properties it is required by law that fire detectors are interconnected either through wiring or wirelessly.
What is the solution?
A lot of the challenges HMO landlords come up against relate to installation time; whether it’s a race to compliance, quick installation due to limited access time, or to get a new rental property up and running as quickly as possible. Wireless fire detection provides an ideal solution – offering quick installation time and wireless interconnectivity. However, it is not always a cost-effective solution.
Wi-Fyre is an innovative hybrid wireless fire detection system from Eurofyre. Wi-Fyre allows wireless fire detection to coexist seamlessly with a new or existing hardwired fire detection system.
This means that hardwired devices can be installed in areas such as hallways, kitchens or bathrooms, and wireless devices can be used where access is restricted or time is of the essence, such as in private quarters, thus reducing the cost total of installation.
For existing installations, a fire alarm system can be quickly and cost-effectively updated to provide suitable detection with minimal disruption to the property or the operation of the building.
How Does Wi-Fyre Work?
A Wi-Fyre transponder is connected to the fire alarm wiring via a compatible interface module. Each transponder can communicate with up to 30 wireless fire alarm devices such as detectors, sounders, manual call points and interfaces.
A Wi-Fyre survey head is used to test the signal between the transponder and any connected device to ensure that is strong enough for the system to work efficiently.