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Are Fire Hoods a requirement for In Ceiling Speakers ?

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There's plenty of confusion in the industry about when and where in ceiling speakers will require a fire hood. Getting this wrong can be extremely costly, not only in terms of the risk to your customers safety, but also in terms of the risk to your business being pursued for damages. Insurance companies are increasingly rejecting claims for fire damage on the basis that the building's fire integrity has been impaired by the installation of equipment into walls and ceilings, and in wall/ceiling speakers represent a serious breach to the integrity of the structure they are fitted to, in terms of fire, acoustics and heat loss. 

The basic premise of the regulations state that it is the home owners, and  installers responsibility to take measures to maintain these properties when installing equipment within the fabric of the building. And therein lies the problem. It can be argued that measures will always need to be taken no matter where in the building speakers are installed.

It is commonly accepted that wherever there is a habitable room above and the floor is made from timber / chip board etc then firehoods are absolutely a requirement, but what of some of the other situations.

I'm installing speakers in a bedroom with only loft space above. Do I need to fit fire hoods ?

There is some inconsistency between individual Building Control Officers on their interpretation of the regulations, but many are now insisting that all speakers are covered. All the major developers we dealt with as installers (Redrow, Taylor Wimpey, Bellway etc) insist on them on all speakers. The size of hole required for in ceiling speakers means that the ceiling's thermal, acoustic and fire rating is severely impaired and the thin paper cone of the speaker offers practically no remedy to the damage done.

If you are planning to install in ceiling speakers without hoods anywhere within a property, then permission should be sought from the relevant Building Control Officer.

If they agree to no hoods being fitted, we'd recommend you ask for this in writing and keep the document stored safely for future reference. We'd also recommend you ask the home owner to sign a Disclaimer of Responsibility which makes it clear that the owner accepts responsibility, and understand that in the event of a fire, any insurance claim could be affected.

I'm installing speakers in a pitched roof. Do I need to fit fire hoods ?

As with the answer above, the installer has a responsibility to maintain the thermal properties of the structure. With a pitched roof you will typically have to cut approximately 2 cubic foot of thermal insulation away to accommodate the speaker causing a serious breach to the thermal properties of the ceiling. The thin cone of the speaker will do practically nothing to restore the ceilings thermal properties. The Firetopper Pro has a high level of thermal insulation due to the air trapped in the acoustic foam layer, restoring most of the thermal insulation lost by cutting away the Kingspan or other insulating material. We'd also recommend filling any remaining cavity cut away with Rockwool.

I'm installing speakers in a suspended ceiling with a concrete floor above. Do I need to fit fire hoods ?

The first thing you need to find out is wether the void between the ceiling and the concrete floor above is a Plenum Space. Plenum spaces are the open spaces above the ceiling or below the floor that are used for air circulation. If the void is a Plenum Space, then yes, fire hoods will be required. If not, you'll still need to consider the other factors so again if you are planning to install in ceiling speakers without a hood, written permission should be sought from the Building Control Officer, and disclaimers put in place.

I'm installing in wall speakers in an internal stud wall ? Do I need to fit fire hoods ?

If the adjoining room forms part of a Fire Escape Route, then yes, fire hoods will be required. If not, then again seek advice from your building control officer and make sure you have your disclaimer in place.

For further information on the regulations, please check out the Regulations section of our web site at www.firetopper.co.uk or get in touch at sales@firetopper.co.uk.

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