Fire safety advice for tenants and leaseholders

If you live in a block of flats or share a hallway with other residents, you will have seen a fire safety notice close to the street-entrance door. It's important that you familiarise yourself with the instructions in this notice. Should a fire occur you may need to take emergency action. Having these details at hand will help you, especially during a time which may be highly stressful.

As a landlord, fire safety is a top priority for us and something we continue to invest in. All of our blocks have had a Fire Risk Assessment and many improvements have been carried out. The risk assessment is a document we regularly review and take any actions needed. If anything changes we will write to you individually so you are aware of the most current and appropriate action to take.

Given the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London, we have increased our vigilance and are revisiting our risk assessments. In the meantime, we are providing the following advice about what you can do to reduce the risk of a fire in your home. Please discuss this advice with other members of your household and give some thought as to what you can do to protect your family and your neighbours.

Did you know?

You are four times more likely to die in a fire if you don't have a smoke alarm that works

  • Around half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents
  • Two fires a day are started by candles
  • Every six days someone dies from a fire started by a cigarette
  • About two fires a day are started by heaters
  • Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 6,000 fires in the home across the country every year

Smoke alarms

Fit at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home

  • Make testing your smoke alarms part of your regular household routine
  • Test them by pressing the button until the alarm sounds. If it doesn't sound, you need to replace the battery
  • If a smoke alarm starts to beep on a regular basis, you need to replace the battery immediately
  • If it is a sealed alarm, you will need to replace the whole unit at least every ten years
  • Mains-powered alarms are powered by your home power supply. They need to be installed by a qualified electrician, but like battery alarms they do require testing
  • The easiest way to protect your home and family from fire is with working smoke alarms. Get them. Install them. Test them. They could save your life

How to avoid electrical fires

Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating

  • Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it
  • Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high power rated
  • Try and keep one plug per socket
  • When charging electrical goods, follow the manufacturer's instructions and look for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards
  • An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of a fire
  • Appliances use different amounts of power - a television may use a 3amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5amp plug for example: 5amp + 5amp + 3amp = 13amp. Made sure you know the limit!

Plan a safe escape

Fitting smoke alarms is the first crucial step to protecting yourself from fire. But what would you do if one went off in the night? You are more at risk from a fire when asleep.

You can carry out these simple checks in your home before you go to bed:

  • Close inside doors at night to stop fires from spreading
  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on such as a fridge 
  • Check your cooker is turned off
  • Don't leave the washing machine or tumble dryer on
  • Turn heaters off and put up fireguards
  • Put candles and cigarettes out properly
  • Make sure exits are kept clear
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them

Information for leaseholders

If you are a leaseholder it's your responsibility to ensure any fire in your home does not spread into the rest of a block. The following measures will help with this:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms
  • Have any gas appliances regularly serviced and tested
  • Ensure your entrance door is properly fire resistant.

We will be working with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to inspect flat entrance doors to ensure they comply with the necessary regulations and we are happy to offer advice. However, if your door does not meet regulation you will be asked to replace or modify it.

Communal areas

Good housekeeping is fundamental to reducing risk in blocks of flats. Controlling the presence of combustible materials and ignition sources not only reduces the potential for accidental fires to start and develop in the communal areas, it also significantly reduces the scope for deliberate fires.

Sometimes we find things left in the communal hallways such as bikes, pushchairs, shoes, plants, or mobility scooters. Whilst we understand that this may be for a good reason, they do create a hazard. Should there be a fire, the corridors could fill with smoke, reducing visibility. In these circumstances, people can trip over items left in the hallways and it can severely restrict the time taken to evacuate a building, or hinder access for fire-fighters.

To keep everyone safe, we have a policy of 'zero tolerance' for anything left in communal corridors and hallways and we will remove items left without prior notice and will charge those responsible for the cost of the removal.

Let us know if there is anything left in your communal areas. You can do this by contacting your housing officer.

Remember – fire safety is everyone’s responsibility.