Fire safety


Serious fires in blocks of flats are rare but when they happen the results can be tragic.   It’s best that everyone understands fire safety procedures and the rules about obstructing corridors and walkways.  Please take a few minutes to read through this advice.

Preventing fires in your home - general advice

  • If you are a leaseholder fit smoke alarms on each floor and test them once a week. The Fire Brigade provides FREE home fire safety checks and will give you a free smoke alarm. You can book an appointment online at london-fire.gov.uk or phone them on 0800 028 44 28.
  • If you are a Council Tenant there should already be a smoke alarm in your flat.  If not, please contact the THH Housing Service Centre on 020 7364 5015.
  • When you go to bed, make sure that you’ve closed all the internal doors.
  • Take care in the kitchen – most fires start here, so never leave your cooking unattended and take extra care with hot oil.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully and never smoke in bed.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets.
  • Keep matches away from children.
  • Do not store flammable liquids such as petrol in your home, bin store or chutes.  

The London Fire Brigade have helpful fire advice in different languages here.

What to do if there is a fire

The London Fire Brigade have produced helpful short films on what to do if there is a fire in your property or block. You can watch them here.

 

If you live in a block of flats:

Your building, like many residential buildings, is designed so that it restricts the spread of fire and smoke between flats. This means it will usually be safe for you to stay in your own flat if the fire is elsewhere. Because of this we have specific advice on what to do to keep everyone safe.

If a fire breaks out in your home:

 Leave the room where the fire is straight away, then close the door.

  • Tell everyone in your home to leave immediately.
  • Close  the front door.
  • Do not stay behind to put the fire out.
  • If there is a lift - do not use it.
  • Call the fire service - dial 999.
  • Wait outside and away from the building.

 If a fire breaks out in another part of your block:

 Stay put until the fire service says it’s safe to leave.

  • You should only leave immediately if smoke or heat affects your home or if you are told to by the fire service.
  • If you leave, close the front door.
  • If there is a lift do not use it.
  • Wait outside away from the  building.
  • Call the Fire Service on 999.

If you live in a house:

 Leave the room where the fire is straight away, then close the door.

  • Tell everyone in your home to leave immediately.
  • Close the front door.
  • Do not stay behind to put the fire out.
  • Call the fire service - dial 999.
  • Wait outside and away from the building.

 If you live in a conversion:

(A conversion is part of a house or other large building which has been converted into flats).

 

  • Leave the room where the fire is straight away, then close the door.
  • Tell everyone in your home to leave immediately.
  • Close the front door.
  • Do not stay behind to put the fire out.
  • Call the fire service - dial 999.
  • Wait outside and away from the building.
  • If safe to do so, you should alert the other residents in the premises.

If the fire breaks out in the communal parts of the conversion:

If safe to do so, evacuate your property and follow the guidance above.

If it is unsafe to evacuate:

  • Leave the room where the fire is straight away, then close the door.
  • If safe to do so, ensure that other residents in your home relocate to a room not affected by the fire and smoke.
  • Open windows if safe to do so and put towels around gaps in doors.
  • If smoke enters the room, keep low, lay on the floor next to the window.
  • If possible, ensure each occupant has a wet towel to protect their heads. 
  • Call the fire service - dial 999.
  • Do not attempt to tackle the fire unless you have been trained to do so.

More information on fire safety is available from the Fire Brigade.

Security Grilles on front doors

We understand why some residents have security grilles on their front door, but there are risks. They can stop you leaving the flat quickly and slow down the fire service.  Ideally, you should be able to open grilles from the inside without a key.  If not, does everyone in your home know what to do and where the keys are if they need to escape a fire?

Tenants with new front doors do not need to consider a front door grille as doors are secure. We plan to replace all older front doors.

Where there are existing grilles across front doors, they must:

  • Not be fixed to the front door frame.
  • Not obstruct the walkway.  For example, the grille must lie flat against the wall when it is open.

Grilles across walkways and internal corridors can stop people escaping fires so they will be removed.  (Exception to this rule is set out below.)  

Open balconies and walkways 

We will normally allow grilles on balconies and walkways for end flats, but they must only affect one property. The space behind should not be used for storage.  If there is an additional grille across the flat’s front door, this must be removed.  In all cases you must seek approval from your Housing Officer first.

In these cases we will write to you separately explaining the risks.  In the meantime, you should prepare an escape plan.  Ideally, you should be able to open grilles from the inside without a key.  If not, does everyone in your home know what to do and where the keys are if they need to escape a fire?

In all other circumstances, grilles across open balconies and walkways are not allowed.  Residents are responsible for removing them and will be charged if THH does it. 

Enclosed Balconies/Walkways 

Grilles across enclosed balconies and walkways are not allowed.

Obstructions in corridors and on open walkways above ground floor:

  • Items placed in the corridor and on window cills must be made of materials that would not readily burn, e.g. metal, ceramic, porcelain and must not cause an obstruction or hazard of any type;
  • Plant pots, planters and the like should take up no more than one fifth of the width of a walkway or ground floor access path;
  • Permanent or heavy furniture and constructions are not allowed;
  • Portable chairs, clothes dryers and the like are allowed but must not obstruct the walkway and should not be left out after use;
  • Window boxes are allowed subject to being of a suitable width;
  • Hanging baskets would be allowed fixed to the inside wall only;
  • Washing lines will only be allowed where they are attached to back walls and do not cause and obstruction. Washing lines will not be allowed where they are fixed acroos a walkway, cause an obstruction or where they are attached to any pipes;
  • Bicycles and the like are not be allowed;
  • Hazardous items including plastic storage sheds are not be allowed.

This advice will help to protect you and your family from the risk of fire.

External wall insulation

A number of residents have asked for information about the external wall insulation installed as part of the recent Decent Homes (Better Neighbourhoods) work.  The system installed consists of mineral fibre rockwool from a company called PermaRock and it has the highest fire proof rating of ‘A1’.  More details can be found on the attached certificate.

Fire safe doors

All flats in blocks which have a front door opening onto a fire escape route need to have a fire compliant front door and door frame which is resistant to smoke and fire for 30 minutes to keep residents safe.  The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers the common areas of blocks of flats (lobbies/stairs/landings) and is designed to protect occupants of flats against the risk of fire.

THH have been providing fire safe front doors and door frames to tenants and leaseholders will be aware from their lease that their front door and door frame is their responsibility.  We have provided some information on how to check if your front door is fire safe.