Your guide to Fire safety
Last updated - 16 November 2018
Here we cover many of the major risks that can cause danger for you, your families and your neighbours. Please read the following frequently asked questions carefully and follow the instructions to make sure you are as safe as possible.
If you have any queries, you can send them to email@example.com and we will get back to you, or speak to your housing officer, property management officer, or the customer service team.
Should a fire break out in your property, items left in communal areas could prevent you or your neighbours – particularly those who may be elderly or children – evacuating the property safely. In a potentially smoke-filled area, these obstructions can also make it harder for firefighters to do their job.
Prams, pushchairs, bicycles and mobility scooters are among the large, bulky items that can block exit routes and cause trip hazards, but other smaller items will also be removed. Shoe racks must be kept inside your front door, rather than outside, while doormats will only be allowed to remain if they are in good condition. Finally, piles of unopened letters pose a real risk of fire, either due to arson or combustion. Letters to former residents, or junk mail, can be returned by labelling them “return to sender” and posting them.
If you are going on holiday, maybe ask a neighbour to keep your mail for you.
If you need help removing large or bulky items, call the customer service centre on 033 3000 3000/contact your housing officer/PMO or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this.
Hundreds of fires every year start in communal areas according to the London Fire Brigade. To prevent these we are legally required to carry out fire risk assessments (FRAs). The assessments, as well as government guidance, demand that common areas are free of combustible material, sources of ignition, and obstructions.
As a result, any items that are left in communal areas will be removed. We will write to you first to give you a clear written notice that your items must be removed, but if the obstructions remain we will be forced to remove them.
Fires caused by smoking result in more deaths than any other type of fire.
It is safer to smoke outside, but you should still ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished and disposed of properly.
If you do wish to smoke indoors – never smoke in bed, and don’t smoke in an armchair, or on a sofa, if you think you may fall asleep. Take extra care when you are tired, taking prescription drugs or have been drinking alcohol.
Use proper ashtrays that can’t tip over and never balance your cigarette or cigar on the edge. Never leave a lit cigarette unattended.
Electronic cigarettes are safer as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed, but only ever use the battery and charger provided with the e-cigarette, don’t leave it on charge overnight and never use it if it is damaged.
Whether traditional or electronic, never smoke close to medical oxygen.
Because barbecues are not used regularly, the dangers are often overlooked, but they can get out of control very quickly if you aren’t careful. Some of our leases say you are not allowed to have barbecues. If this is the case for your property, please respect these rules. They are there for a good reason.
Never use a barbecue indoors or on balconies, and keep them away from your home, sheds, fences, garden furniture, trees or shrubs. Make sure it is place on even ground where it will not tip over.
Never leave a barbecue unattended and keep children, pets and garden games well away. Only use approved barbecue fuel or firelighters, and if you have a gas barbecue, take extra care when turning bottled gas on or off.
Once you are finished, leave the barbecue to cool and then empty the ash onto bare garden soil – never put it into the dustbin.
Electrical fires are common, but many can be easily avoided. Scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason could all be signs of loose or dangerous wiring. If you have any doubts, get them checked by a qualified electrician.
Make sure electrical items have a British or European safety mark and keep them clean and in good working order. Keep to one plug per socket, rather than using extension leads and adapters.
In the event of a power cut, call 105, a free line which will put you through to your local electricity network provider who can give help and advice.
When charging phones, tablets, e-cigarettes and so on, always use the charger that came with your device as counterfeit chargers can be deadly . Many fail to meet UK safety regulations. Also, do not leave items plugged in once they are fully charged.
Faulty electrical goods can also cause fires. If you have a concern about a product, stop using it and make your concern known to the retailer, manufacturer and local Trading Standards office. You can check whether an appliance has been recalled by visiting www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls.
Arson is the number one cause of fire in the UK and there are several steps you can take day-to-day to ensure your building is safer.
- Close bin stores and don’t leave items outside which may attract arsonists.
- Make sure that doors are closed behind you when you leave your property.
- Be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to your housing officer, property management officer, the customer service centre or the police.
Naked flames present a serious risk of fire in your home. Make sure you put out any candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room – and especially before bed. Ensure they are held firmly in heat-resistant holders and placed on a stable surface away from materials that could catch fire such as curtains, furniture or clothes. Candles that come in their own purpose-built jar can be safer, while also having an air-tight lid to remove oxygen and ensure the flame is out.
More fires and fire injuries are caused by carelessness in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home. Heat alarms fitted in kitchens can detect the increase in temperature caused by a fire without being set off by cooking fumes. If you have one fitted, test it monthly.
Avoid leaving cooking unattended and if you have to leave while cooking, it’s safer to take pans off the heat and turn off the hob and/or grill.
Keep your oven, hob, cooker hood and grill clean – build-ups of fat and grease can ignite.
If a pan catches fire, don’t tackle it yourself. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so, leave the room, shout a warning to others and call 999. Never throw water over a pan fire as it could create a fireball.
Take extra care when cooking with hot oil and never fill a pan more than one-third full. If possible, use an electric deep fat fryer instead.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the things in your home, and too many possessions can become a bit of a problem. This can also be a risk if they block your means of escape, or are combustible. If you’d like some help or want to discuss this, please get in touch with your housing officer/property management officer/the customer service centre.
We undertake regular checks, known as fire risk assessments, on all the blocks we own or manage. These are carried out by qualified professionals and if they find anything they think poses a risk, we act quickly to fix it. If any work is identified within the block or your property we would appreciate your assistance in gaining access so the issues can be resolved as quickly as possible.
Fire doors are installed throughout our buildings to contain any fires that may occur, while front entrance doors to flats are also designed to hold back the spread of smoke and fire. If there is any damage to your front door please report this.
It is vital that you keep fire doors closed at all times and don’t prop them open, and also that you don’t tamper with the main front door to your home in any way as this could reduce its effectiveness as a fire door. If you have a faulty door closure or you don’t have a door closure fitted to your front door, please report this.
Make sure your home has smoke or heat detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and that you test them regularly. If you don’t have a heat and smoke detector please report this and we will arrange installation.
Procedures for what to do in the event of a fire vary between properties. Make sure you read and understand the information for your home carefully. If you live in a block you’ll find a fire action notice on your communal notice board. If you can’t find one, contact your housing officer, property management officer or the customer service centre.
At present, we provide key summaries of the reports on request. These are very technical documents and a summary is often easier to digest. However, we are currently reviewing our position following our merger and will update residents on that once the review is complete.
Stay-put policies are recommended by fire brigades for purpose-built blocks designed to contain fires. If the fire is not in your home, but in another part of the building, you will be safer staying in your home unless the heat or smoke is affecting you. Homes with a stay-put policy are designed to hold back flames and smoke for up to 30 minutes.
If there is a fire or smoke in your home, get everyone out and leave the building as calmly as possible, closing the door behind you and not using the lift. Once you’re outside, call 999.
If your home operates an evacuation policy, you should leave the building in the event of a fire no matter which part of the building it is in. Go to a place outside, which is away from the building, and dial 999.
Check your fire action notice for details of which policy is used in your home.