Compartmentalisation is a big word, and it really has a big meaning when it comes to your safety in relation to fire protection.

Your apartment and the building you live in have a number of hidden and unnoticed things built in to protect you.

In a modern building, each apartment is designed to withstand fire from next door or the communal corridor for 60 minutes. This is called compartmentalisation. Your apartment is a compartment and within that compartment are a number of smaller compartments called rooms.

These are cleverly designed to keep fire from spreading with fireproof boarding. The plasterboard in the outer walls of the apartment will normally be a fire board designed to hold back fire. It is vitally important not to damage these walls (cut holes in them, etc).

You then have your apartment doors. The ones inside are 30 minutes rated to stop fire spreading from room to room. Have a look at the edge of the door and you’ll see a plastic strip. Some have draft excluders built into them. This is called an intumescent strip and at high temperature (as seen in a fire) these swell in size to seal the gap between the door and door frame. This stops fire and smoke spreading.

The corridors in your building are designed to be completely non-flammable. There should be nothing in the corridor that will burn. Carpets, etc, should not cause a problem. This is to ensure a fire does not happen in the escape route from your apartment.

Compartmentalisation is also applied to the building itself. Like all agents, we are having every single building reviewed and where we find problems we are having them fixed. Anywhere where smoke or fire can spread has to be sealed. Imagine inside what we call a riser (this is a cupboard on each floor where the electric cables run, as an example). If this is not sealed fire could spread up the whole building inside instead of staying on one floor.

Ask your agent about their fire audits for your building and what (if any) remedial works have been done.