VIC lot owners are curious about stairwells and fire safety in strata buildings.
Question: What is the policy in relation to fire safety and stairwell doors onto common areas such as the car park?
I am the owner of an apartment in a high rise complex in Victoria.
I am interested in finding out what the policy is in relation to fire safety and using the internal stairs. I would also like to know the policy in relation to stairwell doors onto common areas such as the car park. Should these doors be locked and the areas inaccessible to the tenants of the apartment.
Answer: Assuming that you are talking about a fire-isolated stairwell, then usually they will not be locked from the hallway side on any of the levels
It all comes back to what falls under fire code etc.
It’s also contingent on how the building has been set up, for instance, if the person is in a fire stairwell, then the doors generally only open at the very bottom.
They’re not meant to be used to travel between different floors, for example to the car park. There is a reason the doors only open into the stairwell and don’t open back out of the stairwell. It is designed to force everyone to the bottom of the fire stairwell to exit to the outside of the building to safety.
Fire stairwells are also built to keep fire out, so people using them don’t get burnt in a fire.
Outside of that, as I say it comes back to fire requirements.
I can’t advise on what policies an Owners Corporation may have in relation to security and use of common property. However, from the perspective of Essential Safety Measures (ESM) the focus is on escaping the building in a fire event.
Assuming that you are talking about a fire-isolated stairwell, then usually they will not be locked from the hallway side on any of the levels, so that you can always get into that stairwell in order to escape. However, it is very common for the doors to be locked from the inside, so that anybody inside the stairwell cannot access other floor levels (unless they have a key or fob for that level). This is a security measure used in many high rise buildings.
Depending on the number of levels covered by the stairwell some other provisions for re-entry to hallways may be required; however, the only door that in all cases has to be unlocked from within a fire-isolated stairwell is the final exit point (commonly the ground level), so that you can exit the building.
This post appears in Strata News #403
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