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Fire safety

Published: Wednesday, 8th February 2017

Taking a little time to read this information about fire safety in your leasehold property, now, may save your life later.

The main causes of fires in flats

Most fires in blocks of flats start within individual flats, not in the communal areas.

 

The most common causes of fires in flats include:

  • Electrical faults from overloaded sockets
  • Cigarettes when either not put out properly or when thrown out of a window are
  • blown back into an open window into a property below
  • Unattended candles
  • Chip/frying pans when they overheat.

Preventing fires in flats

The best protection from fire is prevention. Here are some tips which will help ensure your home is as safe as possible:

  • Smoke detectors – they are the most effective way of preventing fires, they also give vital early warning and extra time to escape in the event of a fire breaking out. You should check your smoke alarm, weekly, to ensure that it is working properly, change its battery once a year (if it is not hard wired), and replace it every 10 years.
  • Internal doors – make sure that the doors in your flats are in good condition and that they shut properly.
  • Never remove or wedge open internal doors, and ensure that they are shut at night. You should make sure that everyone in your home knows where your keys are kept for the main door.
  • Internal alterations – if you are planning on changing the layout of your flat, think about the implications of fire safety. Always check with the Council before any works begin.

Fire safety in communal areas

You can help keep your block safe by following these important steps:

  • Don’t obstruct the communal areas, which often form the fire escape route for the block
  • Don’t prop open fire doors in communal areas
  • Don’t clutter the stairs, corridors and landings with personal items or things that can set of fire easily
  • Don’t store prams, bicycles or mobility scooters in communal areas without the permission of the Council. You won’t get permission if the fire safety of the block is put at risk
  • If you find anything in the communal areas that doesn’t belong there, remove it or ask the Council to remove it
  • Don’t store flammable materials in cupboards that have electrical circuits
  • Make sure that you put all rubbish in the bins provided – don’t leave it lying around in the refuse area as this can easily be set on fire.

Fire risk assessments to communal areas and front doors

The Council is responsible for carrying out fire risk assessments (FRAs) to the communal areas within Council owned blocks of flats and has recently been in the process of surveying all blocks.

Fire risk assessments to communal areas and front doors

Where risks have been identified in the assessment then the Council has a legal obligation to act on the risk within certain time scales, depending on the issue identified.

Part of these assessments includes checking whether the front doors for each flat within the block offers sufficient fire retardation; this being the length of the time the door is able to prevent a fire from spreading.

Front doors are an important barrier against fire within your block, not just for you but your neighbours too. A suitable fire door prevents fire and smoke from spreading to the communal areas and cutting off escape routes.

Where we have found that an existing door does not offer enough fire protection, the Council will let you know and will arrange to replace the door with apportioned costs being passed on through the normal service charge billing process.