Home safety

Fire safety in flats

As well as our general fire safety advice for all homes, we've got extra safety precautions and information for customers living in flats.

A close-up shot of two hands testing a smoke alarm

Fire safety is important in all homes. Where there are lots of people all living under one roof, such as in a block of flats, it’s even more important.  As well as our general fire safety advice at home, we have extra advice and information for customers living in flats and shared buildings.

Communal areas

As part of our communal cleaning programme, we carry out fire risk assessments when we visit your block of flats every 14 days. 

We will remove any hazardous items we find in communal areas, such as: 

  • anything that could cause a fire
  • anything that could release toxic fumes if it caught fire
  • anything you, or a firefighter, could trip over

We’ll also check fire and smoke alarms in communal areas, as well as emergency lighting. We don’t usually install fire extinguishers, as it’s potentially more dangerous for you to try to extinguish the fire without proper training. It’s safer for you to follow the fire action plan for your building. 

Please help us to keep your communal areas safe by:

  • keeping fire doors closed – they’re there to stop fire from spreading, so please don’t prop fire doors open
  • keeping exits and corridors clear – let us know if other residents are blocking areas and you’d like us to speak to them for you
  • not smoking in shared areas

If you notice any damage to fire doors, faulty emergency lighting or blocked fire exits, contact us immediately so we can sort it. Please also let us know if you believe a fire alarm in a communal area isn’t working.

Front doors

When you live in a flat, your front door is also a fire door. Fire doors are designed to protect you, and everyone else in your building, from fire and smoke. You should never block a fire door or wedge it open. 

We regularly inspect fire doors to make sure they meet the required safety standards. 

Every fire door should be fitted with a self-closing device. The device means that if you open your front door and let it go, it should shut by itself. If the front door of your flat doesn’t shut by itself or it doesn’t close completely, please let us know.

Balconies

Balconies are a great space for socialising and enjoying the outdoors. But if a fire breaks out on your balcony, it could spread much faster than inside your building. Inside your building, walls and fire doors can contain a fire, and oxygen is limited. On your balcony, there’s unlimited oxygen to fuel the fire and the fire can be quickly blown up and across the building by the wind. 

You must keep your balcony clear. You can have a non-flammable table and chairs on your balcony, but please don’t use the space to store furniture, prams or any other items. 

To keep you, and your neighbours safe, you can’t have the following on balconies or patios under balconies:

  • BBQs
  • heaters 
  • candles
  • electrical items
  • indoor furniture
  • bikes
  • pushchairs or mobility scooters
  • rubbish or recycling
  • screens, curtains, carpets or fake grass
  • combustible materials, such as gas, petrol or fertiliser
  • fake plants or hanging baskets – you can keep real plants on your balcony, providing they don’t hang over or aren’t higher than your railings

You can dry your washing or air rugs on your balcony during the day, but don’t hang them over the balcony. You need to bring your washing in overnight and when you’re not at home.

What to do if there’s a fire in your building

Each of our buildings has its own fire action plan, which is clearly displayed in the communal areas. Our building fire action plans are based on current fire service guidance. Please read the policy to make sure you know what to do if there’s a fire in your building. 

  • If a fire starts in your flat, get everyone out, close the door behind you and leave the building. When you are safe, call 999.
  • If a fire starts in a communal area, leave the building using the safest route and call 999.
  • If a fire starts in another flat, stay put unless fire or smoke is affecting your flat. There is fire protection provided in the building and the floors, walls and doors of each flat.

When you stay put, you reduce the risk of entering a smoky corridor unnecessarily and possibly being overwhelmed by smoke. Staying put also means firefighters can tackle the fire safely and quickly without being delayed by residents coming down the stairways.

It’s your decision as to whether you stay put or leave the building. If you have a fire in your flat or are in any way threatened by a fire in your block, you should immediately leave the building.