Fire safety (private rented housing sector)
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Every year the fire brigade is called out to over 60,000 fires nationwide that occur in the home. Around 500 people die and over 10,000 people have been injured in these accidents. A quarter of these deaths and one-third of the injuries occur in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Fire Service statistics for Brighton & Hove suggest there are about four fires a week in HMOs in this area.
Carbon monoxide from defective gas appliances and flues is a known killer. Faulty electrics can cause serious injury and death, either directly or by fire. By law, the council has to make sure that larger HMOs comply with current fire safety standards. We also have powers to ensure that landlords provide an adequate means of escape from fire, and other precautions.
Advice on acceptable standards in HMOs is available on (01273) 293156.
Safety tips to help prevent fire in your home
- don't smoke in bed! Use proper ashtrays and make sure that cigarettes are put out
- beware chip pans - and don't leave them on their own! Otherwise, make sure cooking appliances are properly turned off when you are finished
- unplug appliances at night or when your home is empty
- avoid using adaptors
- beware with candles - don't leave them burning unattended, and make sure they are properly extinguished
- use fire guards on open fires
- don't put clothing close to open fires, or electric fires, to dry off.
- switch off irons before you answer the phone!
- think twice about bonfires, and supervise them. Make sure they are properly out before you leave them
- be extremely careful with fireworks - in fact, this year don't have them at all!
Frequently Asked Questions
What can landlords do to ensure that the fire safety standards in their properties are acceptable?
Landlords must ensure that a fire safety risk assessment is made of the common areas by a competent person. This is a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Detailed guidance on the process is contained in the Government's guide to fire safety in premises where there are sleeping risks; see the Government website; www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk. This legislation is enforced by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, for more information please refer to their website; www.esfrs.org or telephone 0845 130 8855.
There is specific guidance about fire safety in certain types of housing, including houses in multiple occupation in "Housing - fire safety" published by LACORS - see www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/ContentDetails.aspx?id=19843 and www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/ContentDetails.aspx?id=21329.
What should tenants do if they think the fire safety standards in their accommodation are inadequate?
They should inform the landlord. If problems persist and further advice is needed, contact Private Sector Housing at the address below.
Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats
Nationally there have been several serious fires in purpose-built flats and tragically some have resulted in the death of members of the public and fire service personnel. There have also been some worrying incidents locally, indicating that nobody should be complacent and assume that problems will only arise elsewhere. It is essential that people responsible for blocks of flats take adequate fire precautions. Brighton & Hove City Council in partnership with East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has issued a 21 point action plan to help owners and managers take appropriate action.
There are many blocks of flats in Brighton and Hove. Those constructed recently should comply fully with current Building Regulations; others were built at a time when standards were lower and some date from a time when there were no nationally recognised fire standards. The standards of continuing maintenance and management after construction are crucial to the safety of residents and visitors and it would be imprudent to believe that because fire safety standards were considered adequate at the time of construction they will necessarily still be so.
Responsible people have to carry out and implement a fire safety risk assessment as required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which is enforced by the East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. Under the Housing Act 2004 Brighton & Hove City Council (through its Private Sector Housing Team) can require owners to carry out fire safety works.
Owners, managers and residents can contact the Private Sector Housing Team and the Fire & Rescue Service for more information (see contacts below).
Private Sector Housing
Hove Town Hall
Tel: (01273) 293156
Street map: Hove Town Hall
The office is open from 9am - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
For information on furniture regulations call Trading Standards on (01273) 292523
For advice on gas safety - contact your gas company, Transco or the Health and Safety Executive on (01342) 334222.
For general advice contact the East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service:
Brighton & Hove Fire Safety Office
The Fire Station
Tel: (01323) 462130