There was a fire in a second story flat in a block in Luton on 25th April and you can see the dramatic images here. Three people were treated by paramedics including a child but no one else was hurt. The fire service brought things under control within an hour but three flats in the block were damaged.
This makes us think about fire safety concerns from two different perspectives:
For a landlord a block of flats is a business premises but not one that you have easy access and control of all areas. Each individual flat is an area that is hard for your fire risk assessments to cover in their entirety as you have little say over the lifestyle of your tenants but you can:
- Ensure that all electrics and electrical devices supplied by you are tested and in good condition.
- You can also include no smoking in your tenancy agreements.
- Ensure that all tenants are well versed in fire safety procedure in case of an emergency.
- Ensure there is fire detection in each flat.
You do have full control over the communal areas so you will need to take steps to:
- Ensure there is fire detection.
- Ensure fire exits and routes remain clear.
- Ensure fire doors are installed and remain closed to protect exit routes.
- Ensure there are instructions about what to do in an emergency.
- Ensure there are extinguishers in appropriate places.
This list is not exhaustive as you will need to look at the regulations and consider them reference to your own building and fire risk assessments.
As a tenant it is easy to think that the responsibility is with the landlord or even not think about fire safety at all, but it is important. As we can see from the story of the Luton fire, in a block of flats it is not just your own safety that you are guarding as there are many in the same building.
- Be mindful of your cooking practices and electrical equipment. Do not leave things unattended while they are in use.
- Ensure you do not have unnecessary clutter building up in your place especially keeping areas around heat sources and electricity free.
- If you use candles ensure they are are protected or do not use them at all.
- In a block of flats your escape routes are limited so ensure that you and all your family are well versed in their best course of action in a crisis and the best escape routes.
- Ensure you can always contact the emergency services by keeping phones close.
Again this is not an exhaustive list, but it is here to start you thinking as there are more hazards in a block of flats than there are on a ground floor flat or house.