Fire Safety In Flats - The Top Ten Tips

The potential hazards have been well publicised in recent times but fire safety in flats is really nothing new.

As an owner or tenant there a number of steps you should be taking and here are our top ten tips to ensuring you keep safe.

Understand the key things you should know about your lease. If you are a purchaser, this can help make sure your solicitor has covered all of these points and explained them clearly to you.

Fire Safety In Flats - Tips 1 to 5

1. Ask your managing agent to provide you with a copy of the building’s latest fire risk assessment. It is, effectively, a guide book for fire safety plans in your building.

2. If your managing agent won’t provide you with a copy of the fire risk assessment then complain to the individual agent directly. If that does not work, then make a formal complaint through the internal complaints procedure at the agent’s company.

If you are still unhappy, you can complain to a redress scheme.

All managing agents in England must be a member of one these redress schemes:

    The Property Ombudsman

    The Property Redress Scheme

3. If there is no fire risk assessment and the responsible person will not conduct an assessment, then contact your local fire and rescue authority (FRA). Your FRA is responsible for enforcing fire safety regulations. They can make the person responsible for fire safety in your building carry out a fire risk assessment.

Your local fire service can tell you who the FRA is (it might be your local council). You can also search on the National Fire Chiefs Council website.

4. It is recommended that for low-rise blocks of up to three storeys above ground, built in the last 20 years, fire risk assessments should be:

>> reviewed every 2 years
>> redone every 4 years

For blocks with higher risks (for example, because of the age of the building), or those more than 3 storeys high, it is recommended that assessments should be:

>> reviewed every year
>> redone every 3 years

In extreme cases (for the highest-risk buildings), a new fire risk assessment is recommended annually.

When you receive your building’s fire risk assessment check when it was last redone and/or reviewed.

5. If you have received the assessment, check that the managing agent has or will act on its recommendations.

Fire Safety In Flats - Tips 6 to 10

6. Fit smoke alarm(s) in your flat and test them monthly.

7. Be vigilant that the communal areas are free of obstructions to your escape from fire; and that fire doors in communal areas are not propped open.

8. If a specific ‘evacuation plan’ is agreed with the Local Fire Authority then you should read the plan carefully, so you know what to do if you ever need to evacuate.

9. Check that the managing agents have regular testing and servicing arrangements in place for any fire-fighting and detection equipment.

10. If alterations to doors or the internal layout of the flat are planned, consider implications on fire safety and check any issues with your managing agent.

Fire Safety In Flats - 5 Step Risk Assessment

Excel Fire’s 5 step fire risk assessment method

1 Identify fire hazards – Electrical sources, smoking, arson, heating, cooking, lighting, housekeeping standards, outside contractors and building works

2 Identify people at risk – Sleeping occupants, disabled occupants and people in remote areas

3 Fire protection measures – Means of escape, limiting the spread of fire, escape lighting, fire safety signs, giving warning in event of fire, manual fire extinguishing appliances, automatic fire extinguishing systems

4 Management of fire safety – Procedures for responsible persons, training and drills, testing and maintenance, action plan with time scale drawn up

5 Review – The review date for the fire risk assessor or responsible person

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