Fire Safety:

Following on from last week’s fire door safety week, the importance of fire safety in rental property and high rise blocks is emphasised to property owners further by the publication of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) fire safety guide. It highlights the responsibilities of landlords and tenants in keeping properties safe.

According to RICS, there is still a continuing problem and a significant number of deaths and injuries each year from fires in residential properties. The RICS guide therefore has been written with landlords, homeowners and residential tenants in mind.

RICS says:

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“With recent fires in residential property, there is an urgent need for the public, landlords and residents to be aware of what can cause fires and the measures they should take to stay safe. RICS is acting in the public interest in publishing this fire safety guide, which we hope will be of benefit widely.”

The guide has been prepared by RICS Chartered Building Surveyors and a “multi-discipline advisory group” experienced in the complex area of fire safety design and regulation. The advice covers fire detection, reacting to and extinguishing fires as well as guidance on accessibility and special needs assistance.

For rented or shared accommodation (HMOs), the guidance includes defining landlords’ obligations with appliances, furniture and alarm systems, clarifying exactly where responsibility lies in these situations.

For residents, the guide emphases the importance of acting quickly and safely in the event of a fire in a residential home. This including smoking, including e-cigarettes and vaping, candles, electric circuit overloads and furniture. It says “the most fundamental fire precaution to take is to plan and memorise escape routes.”

Last week’s Fire Door Safety Week was organised by the British Woodworking Federation, with the aim of stamping out bad practice and raising awareness of the important role that fire doors play.

There are a number of resources for landlords and tenants on the link above to the fire door safety website.

Helen Hewitt, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation, has said:

“We all need to feel protected, and especially so when we are asleep. Fire doors play a vital role as the first line of defence against fire and smoke, containing their spread while buildings are evacuated. But they must be properly installed and maintained, and good fire safety practice must be shared and followed.

“That’s why we continue to raise awareness every year through Fire Door Safety Week.

“Good practice is especially important in buildings with multiple occupants and residents who may be vulnerable. It is quite literally a matter of life and death.”

Practical tips for landlords on fire door inspections are available on the fire door inspection website

Only certified good quality fire doors should be installed by a competent installer and regular fire door inspections should be carried out by persons responsible for the management of a property.

Door frames, ironmongery, door closers and fire seals are just as important as the door itself – these all work together to provide a fire tight barrier lasting long enough to enable escape and prevent the spread of the fire.

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