Letter to all THH residents - fire safety

Posted on Wednesday 18th July 2018
estates view - fire safety

The letter below was sent to all Tower Hamlets Homes residents on 16 July 2018.  There is more information on our website about fire safety here.

Dear Resident

Further to my previous letters to you on fire safety, I am writing again to assure you that Tower Hamlets Homes considers your safety a priority. 

The London Fire Brigade have recently advised THH that there have been seven fires across London in the last three weeks started by discarded cigarette butts.

We have recently had three fires in and around THH properties caused by avoidable circumstances (one was started by a candle and the other two from discarded cigarettes, possibly thrown from a flat above and blown onto a balcony and shed below). 

With these fires and the hot weather forecast to last for another month, I thought it was timely I contacted you to ask that you do all you can to be vigilant so the causes of fire can be avoided.  The London Fire Brigade have issued the following summer fire advice:

“Cigarettes have caused a spate of large fires in London during the recent heatwave, prompting firefighters to urge Londoners to take more care in the hot weather, especially when discarding cigarettes. 

In the last two weeks, there have been 20 large fires in London, with each needing more than 35 firefighters to tackle them. Many are believed to have been started by cigarettes but also barbecues, the sun reflecting off mirrors and other sun related causes. 

Deputy Commissioner Tom George, London Fire Brigade’s Director of Operations, said: 

“A heatwave often causes a surge in fires but there are some simple things people should do to prevent them. Everyone has a role to play in preventing fires, so be careful with how you put out cigarettes and matches, and butts should be fully stubbed out and not tossed into bins, onto the floor or out of windows. 

We all love a barbecue in the sun, let’s keep it that way.  

“Barbecues on balconies are also a very serious fire risk. Tiny embers from the coals and food float away, catching curtains, dry grass verges and trees. You cannot barbecue on a balcony safely and you are putting everyone in your building at risk. 

“While Brigade crews have coped well with the recent spate of large fires and we always stand ready to help you, we would rather they didn’t happen in the first place. Everyone can help prevent fires from starting in the first place and I want Londoners to note our fire safety tips. 

Sunshine safety tips

  • Never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony
  • Position your barbecue on level ground and keep it well away from anything that may catch fire (sheds, fences, trees, tents etc.)
  • Keep children, pets and garden games away from the barbecue
  • Have a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergency use
  • Never use a barbecue indoors or in an unventilated space as there is a real risk of creating dangerous Carbon Monoxide gas
  • Never leave camp fires or barbeques unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them
  • Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
  • Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes safely
  • Keep mirrors and shiny objects out of sunlight as sun rays can refract through them and cause fires.” 

Smoke alarms 

If you are a THH tenant and you do not have a smoke alarm please order one at my.thh.org.uk or call our Housing Service Centre on 020 7364 5015. 

If you are a leaseholder, I strongly encourage you to fit smoke alarms and test them regularly. If you rent your property out, you must follow safety regulations which include gas and electrical tests, fitting smoke alarms and following all fire safety regulations. More information can be found at gov.uk/private-renting. Smoke alarms are available free from the London Fire Brigade.                                         

If you are a tenant of a leaseholder, your landlord must by law fit a working smoke alarm for you and carry out an annual gas safety check if you have a gas boiler in your flat. Smoke alarms are available free from the London Fire Brigade.

 Staying put in high-rise buildings

Our high-rise buildings are made up of fire safe compartments and in the event of a fire within a particular location in a building, the design ensures that the fire does not spread and this enables the Fire Brigade to deal with the incident and make the building safe.

If you are in a building with a ‘Stay Put’ policy, advice from the London Fire Brigade is that you should only stay in the building IF you feel it is safe to do so. If at any time fire or smoke affects your home you should leave the building immediately using the nearest escape route.

The London Fire Brigade’s guidance is to ‘Stay Put’ unless residents have been specifically advised otherwise or directed to leave by the London Fire Brigade or if their flat is affected by fire and smoke. This is because:

  • Our blocks of flats are built to prevent the spread of fire – ‘compartmentalisation’ includes fire breaks between flats and between floors.
  • By leaving your flat, you may walk into smoke or fire in common areas.
  • Opening your fire door may allow smoke and fire into your home and help spread smoke and flames.
  • Staying put will also help firefighters to tackle the fire safely and quickly without being delayed by many residents evacuating down the stairways.
  • Audible alarms would work against the London Fire Brigade advice as it would alert residents to leave the building.


Comprehensive information on fire safety is available at thh.org.uk

Lastly, many of you will be aware that the enquiry into the Grenfell fire is currently ongoing. Please be assured that the Council and THH will act swiftly on all recommendations that may come out of it. THH continues to meet with the London Fire Brigade to ensure our approach on fire safety is the best it can be.

Yours faithfully


Susmita Sen

Chief Executive

Tower Hamlets Homes

Posted on Wednesday 18th July 2018