Fire Safety in Properties

Hawk & Chadwick

Alasdair Gravestock Du Melville - Director

Alasdair Gravestock Du Melville – Director

When it comes to property, there are definitely risks – most of us look at the financial aspects when it comes to looking at our homes and investments, but the physical risks are quite obviously a factor as well. We’ve all seen the adverts and the promotion about house fires and the importance of alarms in recent years, and anyone who has seen a burned out house may think it’s something that can never happen to them.

The fire statistics published by the Home Office on the 29th June 2016 covering the reported cases in 2014/2015 amass to roughly 496,000 incidents, of which six percent were related to dwellings – which equates to 31,300 homes affected by fire.

The most dangerous room in your house for a fire?  The living or dining room, believe it or not! And you’re most at risk if you smoke in the property or if you’re over 60, according to the statistics on fatalities in house fires during this period. Perhaps unsurprisingly, misuse of cooking appliances accounts for a huge number of casualties and fire related incidents every year. The most common time of day for a fire to break out?  The evening, between 4pm and 10pm. There were 7,600 casualties attributed to fire related incidents in England in 2014/2015.

We need to take note of this information, and assist our fire departments in reducing the number of fires that break out – their work has seen a massive reduction in the number of fires and fire related deaths since 2003, but there’s still more we can do to ensure our homes and investments are fire safe. I spoke to Ben Cornish from Red & White Fire Protection to get the inside track on what we need to look out for to not only stay compliant, but more importantly stay safe;
“There are several important pieces of legislation which impact on fire safety within dwellings” says Ben.

“Some affect all dwellings irrespective of the layout or how it is occupied. Some legislation only applies to dwellings which are occupied by tenants who are unrelated or only applies to certain parts of the building.”

Ben offered a list of legislation, which we’d like to share with you below.

“Depending on the type of property and how it is occupied some or all of the following will apply.”

A. Building Regulations 2010 Part B.

Application – all dwellings where any significant building work is carried out.

B. Housing Health & Safety Rating System (“HHSRS”)

Fire is included in the 29 hazards covered by the system introduced by Housing Act 2004.

Application – this applies all dwellings, rented or private.

C. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

This applies to all rented dwellings.

D. Fire Safety Order – [The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order2005]

See the guidance on Fire Safety in purpose-built flats.

See the guidance for common parts of bedsits and converted flats in LACORS guide.

Application – common parts (i.e. the shared areas including shared stairways, landings, kitchens, bathrooms etc.) of dwelling buildings containing in bedsits and flats both converted and purpose built.

Ben goes on to add a little further information regarding smaller dwellings;

“If a flat is occupied as bedsits there are two sets of common parts within the building. The first is the shared access route to the flat front door and other is the shared areas within the flat e.g. hallway, shared kitchen, bathroom etc – in that instance, both areas would require risk rating.”

“But, remember it does not apply to shared houses let on a joint tenancy, unless it’s an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) in which case it does apply”

We’ve linked above to the relevant documents so you can read for yourself – as you can see, it’s a minefield of legislation and while the danger may be slim, as a landlord or a property owner it is your responsibility to ensure the property, it’s fixtures and fittings and contents are fire safe – in the event of a fire, you’d need to be able to prove that you took all the necessary steps to prevent it.

If you’re confused or unsure of your obligations when it comes to fire safety, our recommendation is that you do not take chances and do everything you can to make sure you’re compliant, and part of that should be contacting either myself directly so that I can put you in touch, or go straight to Ben to conduct a comprehensive fire safety review.

Stay stafe, and make sure you’re compliant.

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First posted August, 2016