Help and advice
All residents have the right to live in a safe home
Follow our advice and tips on fire safety, gas safety, legionella and pests.
- Fire safety
- Gas safety
Fire and smoke can spread very quickly. Both can kill. You, your family and visitors are responsible for preventing the outbreak of fire.
Here you can find important information that advises what you can do to prevent fires and what to do if one should break out in your home.
It is important that everyone knows how to avoid fires starting and what to do if one does start.
Fire risk assessments
We take fire safety very seriously and carry out fire risk assessments for our properties to make sure we keep our residents safe.
- Fire Risk Assessment for Tavy House
- Fire Risk Assessment for Tamar House
- Fire Risk Assessment for Lynher House
All relevant fire risk assessments are available on request.
Home safety visits
Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service offer home safety visits which will provide you with free advice about staying safe in your home. To book a free home safety visit call 0800 7311 822.
Most fires are avoidable if you follow a few simple rules:
- Test your smoke detector weekly, especially if it is battery operated only
- Check your home and make sure that it is safe from fire hazards. Pay particular attention to your kitchen, as two thirds of fires happen due to cooking
- Cookers should not be left unattended, particularly when using a chip pan
- Pay attention to electrical safety. Report all broken switches, sockets and light fittings or any exposed wiring immediately to the Repairs and Maintenance Service
- Turn off an unplug all electrical items not designed to be left on for long periods of time
- Do not use or store propane gas bottles, paraffin or other flammable liquids such as petrol
- Lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes should not be left unattended
- Keep matches away from children and ensure they can not be reached
- Candles should only be used in a stable holder, well away from curtains and other flammable materials and never be left unattended
- Do not dry or air clothes near heaters, cookers or open fires. Make sure open fires have fireguards
- Close internal doors when you retire at night.
Living in a flat
If you live in a multi-storey block of flats or maisonettes please read the Devon & Somerset fire safety in flats and high rise buildings advice on their website.
In addition to this you should also:
- Not wedge fire doors open
- Dispose of your rubbish responsibly. Do not allow flammable materials to be left in communal areas
- Not smoke in communal areas. This includes landings, lifts, foyers, stairwells, walkways, community rooms and storage cage areas.
Keep communal areas clear
You must keep communal areas such as landings, foyers, stairwells and walkways free of obstacles. They are your way out in the event of a fire. This is because anything left in these areas could:
- Slow people down from being able to escape, especially if they are disabled, have poor eyesight or there is smoke which will cause visibility to be reduced. This could cost lives
- Catch fire and emit smoke, which could be toxic
- Stop firefighters from being able to move around safely to deal with emergency or rescue
We have a legal duty to ensure that escape routes are safe. As a tenant, you also share this responsibility in your Tenancy Agreement. To ensure this we have a clear corridors policy, which states that must not leave anything outside of your flat. We understand that you may not agree with this, but we have to remove any potential obstacles such as furniture, plants and pictures from communal areas. If you have any questions please contact your Housing Officer.
If you have a mobility scooter you must make your own arrangements to store and charge it. Due to our clear corridors policy, you must not store mobility scooters in any communal areas.
This includes landings, foyers, stairwells, walkways and community rooms. You also should not run extension leads into corridors to charge them. This is because mobility scooters can present a risk to other tenants, especially in the event of a fire.
Plan an escape route
In the event of a fire in your home, your main priority is to get out. Do not try and fight the fire yourself. Be prepared by:
- Planning your escape route and make sure that everyone staying in your home knows where to go, in case there is ever a fire
- Keep your keys to the front door in a handy position, but out of the way of burglars. Vital time may be lost if you do not keep they keys to the front door close to it
- Keep your escape route inside and outside of your home clear of obstacles at all times .
All of our properties should be fitted with smoke detectors. If you do not have one, contact us on 0808 230 6500.
You are responsible for maintaining your smoke detector. However, if you are disabled or elderly with no one else in your household, we can arrange for someone to do this for you.
What to do in the event of a fire
- Try to be calm - don't panic
- Don't open doors looking for the source of the fire
- Alert everyone else in your home to the fire
- Close all doors in your home as you leave a room, if it safe to do so. However, make sure everyone else is out of the room
- Don't stop to collect personal belongings or pets
- If you have to move through smoke, keep as close to the floor as you can, where the air is fresher
- Close the front door after the last person has left
- If you live in a flat do not use a balcony to escape from, unless it is part of an official escape route
- If there is one, do not use the lift. Always use the staircase
- When you are out of the building or at the assembly point and safe, call 999
- Remember if you have a 'pay as you go' mobile phone it will still allow calls to 999 if you have no credit
- Keep calm and speak clearly
- Do not go back into the building until you have been told it is safe to do so by the Fire Service.
What to do if you are trapped by fire
- Close the door to the rooms you are in
- Try to seal any gaps under the door with clothes or towels to stop smoke entering
- If you can use a phone without putting yourself in danger dial 999
- Close the windows unless you need fresh air or to call for help
- If you can't get to a phone safely shout for help out of the window. Ask a passer by to dial 999.
- Under the Fire Safety Order 2005 we have a duty to make sure that your home is safe. Not just to live in but for council staff, contractors and other visitors as well
- We have a dedicated fire safety team that work with Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, to make sure our homes are as safe as we can make them. They also ensure that people are given enough information and training about fire safety
- In 2011 we started a programme of inspecting every block of flats to see what could be done to improve fire safety. As a result we have begun to make a number of improvements including repairs to fire doors, extra signs, fire stopping, fire detection and improved ventilation
- Over time we will be providing you with more information and advice about fire safety, to help make your home a safer place
Legal duties as a leaseholder
There are three main pieces of legislation which apply to fire safety in residential buildings:
- The Building Regulations 2000 which requires all home owners to comply with building control requirements, when undertaking any alterations to their property
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which requires lessee's to cooperate and coordinate with Plymouth Community Homes to ensure the risk from fire is reduced as far as possible
- The Housing Act 2004 which requires lessee's to reduce the risk from fire within the home.
If you think you can smell gas:
- Do not smoke or light matches
- Do not turn electrical switches on or off
- Open doors and windows
- Turn off the meter at the control handle unless the meter is in the cellar
- Call 0800 111 999
You'll be asked:
- The address/location of the suspected gas escape or gas emergency
- How many people are at the property where the smell is most noticeable
- How long the smell has been noticeable
- If the smell is coming from the cellar/basement
- Are any neighbours affected
- Your name and phone number
- Any special circumstances or access information
All calls to the Gas Emergency Service may be recorded and monitored.
If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds or you suspect a leak:
- Stop using all appliances, switch them off, and open doors and windows to ventilate the property
- Evacuate the property immediately - stay calm and avoid raising your heart rate
- Call the Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999 to report the incident.
- Don't go back into the property - wait for advice from the emergency services
- Seek immediate medical help - you may not realise you've been affected by the carbon monoxide and going outside into fresh air won't treat any exposure by itself
Help from PCH
To help you speak to the right person and get the right advice if you call PCH, we have added a 'key press' option to our phone lines. When you use the key press option, your call will be routed to the National Gas Emergency Service call centre.
Call us on 0808 230 6500 and press 1.
The only time the key press option should be used is if you suspect you have a gas leak, release of carbon monoxide or your carbon monoxide alarm is sounding.
What is legionella?
Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk including:
- people over 45 years of age
- smokers and heavy drinkers
- people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- diabetes, lung and heart disease
- anyone with an impaired immune system
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may also be found in purpose-built water systems such as hot and cold water systems and spa pools.
If conditions are favourable, the bacteria may grow increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease and it is therefore important to control the risks by introducing appropriate measures.
Where does it come from?
Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems, e.g. rivers and ponds. However, the conditions are rarely right for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. hot and cold water systems and spa pools used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).
How do people get it?
People contract Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols), suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk from legionella if:
- the water temperature in all or some parts of the system may be between 20-45 °C, which is suitable for growth
- it is possible for breathable water droplets to be created and dispersed e.g. aerosol created by water outlets
- water is stored and/or re-circulated
- there are deposits that can support bacterial growth providing a source of nutrients for the organism e.g. rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms.
What are we doing about legionella?
We are carrying out water hygiene risk assessments as part of our legal obligations. We already regularly monitor and inspect some of our larger buildings to make sure water systems are clean and safe.
You can provide our assessor access to your home for them to check your water. This should take about 30 minutes to one hour, dependent on the type and size of your home.
What can you do to lower the risk?
Clean and disinfect taps and showers.
Legionella bacteria can multiply on scale, dirt or rust, so clean and disinfect taps and showers every three months or sooner if there is an obvious build-up of debris on the outlet,
Setting the right temperature
Legionella bacteria are more likely to grow between 20°C and 45°C, so where possible set hot water thermostats to 60°C. Using cold taps regularly can help temperatures stay below 20°C.
Use water taps once a week
All the water taps require use on at least a weekly basis this helps to make sure you don’t have water standing still in pipes. If you’ve been away for more than a week, run all your taps for a few minutes before using the water. You’ll also need to run the water in your shower. Make sure the water doesn’t spray or splash too much as this can create water droplets. If you can’t remove the shower head, cover it with a towel or plastic bag while you run the water.
Pests can damage your home and be a nuisance. You can report a pest problem to us and we'll be able to advise who is responsible for the pest control issue.
- Bees and wasps (in or on a PCH property or a PCH erected shed or garage)
- Mice, only if the mice are in a block of flats or its communal grounds
- Nuisance birds (specific circumstances only)
- Rats, only if the rats are in a block of flats or its communal grounds
- Squirrels (which are in the roof/loft space)
- Ants in garden
- Bees and wasps in the garden or surrounding area
- Mice, if not in communal areas or not in blocks of flats
- Rats, if not in communal areas or not in blocks of flats