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. Please see the Fire Kills Wise up fact sheet for why you must take this responsibility seriously.
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
What if I live in a flat?
If you live in a multi-storey block of flats or maisonettes please read the High Rise Fire Safety leaflet.
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
Keeping 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.
For further information please see our Management of common areas document.
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.
Planning 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
- For further information on planning an escape route and fire safety in your home please see the Fire Safety in the Home leaflet.
- All of our properties should be fitted with smoke detectors. If your does not have one contact the Repairs and Maintenance Service and we will fit one
- 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. Please contact the Repairs and Maintenance Service.
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
Fire safety and your legal duty 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 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