Fire safety in council flats

Find out how we make our blocks of flats resistant to fire, and what to do if there's a fire in your building

What to do if there's a fire

If the fire is in your flat you should get out, stay out and phone the fire service on 999.

If the fire is somewhere else in the building you can normally stay in your flat with the doors and windows closed, unless heat or smoke is affecting you.

The fire service will tell you if you need to leave the building.

You can find more information in our guide to fire safety in flats (PDF 121KB).

How we make our buildings safe

All our blocks of flats are built to be resistant to fire, so living above the first floor does not put you at greater risk from fire.

We make sure our buildings are safe by:

  • having walls, ceilings and doors that can hold back flames and smoke
  • making regular safety checks
  • carrying out any extra fire safety work needed

View the cladding and fire safety information for our high-rise blocks.

If you think anyone you live with may have trouble leaving your building if there's a fire, phone 01273 293 030 for help.

Read our information on the main causes of fire in the home.

Fire safety in your home

Smoke alarms

The most effective way to get an early warning of a fire in your home is to have an operational smoke alarm installed in the correct location and to test it regularly, renewing the battery when necessary.

We all need to consider how we would respond and escape if there's a fire in the home. 

Your escape would be through your flat entrance door and out of the block’s main entrance door.

The Housing Repairs and Maintenance Service has a programme of work to fit smoke alarms that are wired into the electric so will not need a battery. It will take some time to cover all our properties. We'll be in contact with you when your block is being fitted.

Individual flat smoke detectors will only notify the resident in their flat when smoke is within that area, and these are not linked to other properties.

Free home safety visits

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) offer free home safety visits. They can give you a range of advice to help you keep safer in the home and reduce the risk of fire. They can also check and fit smoke alarms as appropriate.

Visit the ESFRS website for information on how to book a free Home Safety Visit.

Keeping areas clear

If you do need to leave your flat in case of a fire, it's very important that your hallway is clear of obstructions, especially things which burn easily or could present a trip hazard.

All communal corridors and lobbies must be kept clear of obstructions and stored items so you can quickly and safely escape the building if necessary and allow the fire service clear access.

If there's a fire

If a fire breaks out in your home:

  1. Do not try to put out the fire unless you're sure you can do so safely.
  1. Immediately leave the room where the fire is and close the door behind you.
  1. Tell everyone in your flat there's a fire and instruct them to leave the flat with you.
  1. Close the front door behind you and leave the block immediately. Use the stairs and not the lift.
  1. Phone the fire service on 999, giving the operator your telephone number and asking for the fire service. When the fire service answers, say clearly – ‘Fire at (give your name and address including the postcode)’.
  1. Wait for the fire service to repeat the address before replacing the receiver. 

We have completed a fire risk assessment for your building. This tells us what the safest action is in the event of a fire. If there's a fire somewhere else in your building you will be safe to remain in your home. This is called our Delayed Evacuation Policy.

Staying in your home will enable the fire service to come into your building and tackle the fire quickly. If the fire service thinks it’s necessary to evacuate you or the whole building they will let you know. 

In the event of a fire, stay in your flat and await their instructions unless:

  • you're told to leave
  • heat, flames or smoke enter your home

Fire-resisting self-closing doors

Your flat entrance door and doors to stairways, communal landings and corridors in your block are fire doors.

In the event of a fire, these doors are designed to slow the spread of fire and smoke. This helps you to leave the building safely if you need to.

If fire doors are jammed or propped open it stops them from working properly and that becomes a danger to everyone in the building.

Do not wedge these doors open. To report any defective doors to our repairs team:

Fires in purpose-built blocks

Our purpose-built blocks do not have a communal full-building fire alarm system. We only have alarms covering storage cupboard areas or bin rooms.

Each flat in purpose-built blocks is designed to be individually contained giving 60 minutes of fire protection with a flat entrance fire door.

The fire service would attend to any reported fire in a high-rise flat.

We have never had fire alarms linked to the lifts, but we have signage stating that lifts should not be used as a means of fire escape. There's also signage around buildings giving advice on what to do in the event of a fire.