Fire Prevention: Protecting Your Home
18th Dec 2018
Flat owners often feel that living within a residential block can come with certain limitations. You may feel certain measures and restrictions are unnecessary, however they are put in place for your own safety. We have listed a few of the fire prevention measures in your block that you may not be aware of.
Changing Your Flat Front Door
Many residents are unaware that their front door is part of an essential protective measure in the fire safety strategy for their building. They are often used as a part of the compartmentation process, ensuring fire is contained within the flat until it is extinguished by the fire services. This allows for other areas of the building to remain safe, allowing residents to stay safely within their flat unless the need for evacuation arises.
Flat doors and frames have specific requirements under Building Regulations to help provide fire resistance for no less than 30 minutes. They should always have self-closing devices attached to contain the spread of fire. Failure of correct care and maintenance to your flats front door can pose serious risks to the safety of others in the building. Any risk assessments carried out within your building will always include your front door, which will need to be evaluated from both sides. This is to check it remains in good working order. Failure to co-operate in this regard can lead to prosecution.
Alterations To Your Flat
For some blocks, the internal layout will also form part of the fire strategy, designed to add to the compartmentation of the building. For this reason, any alterations could pose serious risks to the prevention of fire and smoke spread. Examples include:
- Changing your front door with an unsuitable door that is not fire resistant.
- Open plan rooms could possibly impair protection to common areas.
- Fitting non-condensing tumble dryers with holes through fire walls.
- Fitting additional socket outlets that may damage the protection to the frame construction.
The best protection from fire is prevention. Your landlord/managing agent has duties to take steps to prevent fires breaking out within the communal areas of your building, but you can still ensure the safety within your home using these simple measures:
- Smoke detectors give vital early warning and time to escape. Mains wired detectors are safest. Alarms should be checked weekly, with batteries changed yearly and the alarm itself replaced every 10 years.
- Doors within your flats should be in good condition and shut properly. Never remove doors or wedge them open and ensure that they are closed at night.
- Alterations that you plan to your property should first be accepted by your landlord/managing agent as implications on fire safety should be considered beforehand.
- Common areas should not be used to store items such as prams, bicycles or mobility scooters unless agreed by your managing agent as they may cause hazards in the event of an evacuation.
- Flammable materials should not be stored in cupboards with electrical circuits.
- Fire doors should be kept shut. Never wedge them open.
Your lease will most likely have a clause requiring you to comply with the statutory requirements of maintaining your flat. They are put in place to help prevent putting yourself and other residents (and also the building) at risk. If you are unsure of your personal obligations, always check your lease.