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Fire Safety for Flats

Fire extinguisher on blue wall

Fire safety is imperative for everyone, but is especially important in residential blocks of flats. Residential block management companies should have a set of procedures regarding fire safety in flats, as well as evacuation plans, and should proactively adhere to fire safety laws and regulations. 

Below, we’ve outlined some of the key aspects of fire safety in flats that residential block management companies should observe, as well as a few tips for residents that will help to minimise the spread of fire, should the worst happen.

Fire Safety Regulations for Residential Block Management Companies

When purpose-built flats are constructed, various building regulations must be followed with regards to fire safety. Once the block is occupied, fire safety measures can be found in the Housing Act 2004, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) 2005. 

Below are some of the key aspects of fire safety in flats that both block management companies and residents should observe:

Smoke Alarms

We all know the importance of smoke alarms, but they are especially important in blocks of flats. Block management companies must ensure that smoke alarms are fitted on each floor in communal areas, as well as inside each individual unit.

Smoke alarms should be tested regularly to ensure they are in good working order. Residents should not disconnect, or remove the batteries from the device for any reason. 

Fire Safety in Communal Areas

Block management companies are responsible for ensuring the safety of communal areas in residential blocks. With regards to fire safety in flats, this includes:

  • Ensuring that communal hallways are clear of obstructions
  • Ensuring that communal areas are free of hazards
  • Ensuring that electrical wiring is safe and has been recently tested
  • Ensuring that there are no flammable materials or substances stored close to electrical items

Residents also have some responsibilities in communal areas:

  • Always close fire doors ;do not be tempted to prop them open for convenience
  • Don’t clutter stairs with post or junk mail
  • Don’t store prams/bikes/scooters in corridors and landings without permission from your landlord or block management company as the area could be an escape route

Fire Doors

External/Communal Doors

In flats, fire doors are a legal requirement for all doors which face communal areas, i.e. the front doors of individual flats within a residential block. They are designed to withstand fire for up to 30 minutes, and help to ensure that escape routes are protected. 

It is the legal responsibility of the landlord or property owner to ensure that flats are fitted with external fire doors, but block management companies should check for such things as part of their health and safety management. 

External fire doors should never be altered in any way without the permission of the landlord, property owner, or block management company. Changing the door in any fashion could have a negative impact on its effectiveness against fire. 

Individual/Internal Doors

Internal doors in flats must be fire doors if the flat is above the ground floor, or higher than 4.5 metres. It is recommended that tenants close internal fire doors at night in case of a fire, as such doors will help to stop the spread of the fire, and keep the hallway clear for evacuation. 

Evacuation Procedures

Due to building regulations, residential blocks should be built to resist fire for a period of time.  Flats are built to contain fires, preventing it from spreading, and allowing other residents to safely evacuate. 

However, should your flat be affected by smoke, heat, or flames, it’s important to evacuate immediately. Do not use lifts in these circumstances, and if it is safe to do so, notify other residents on your escape route by knocking on their door. Do not put yourself at risk to do so, and do not return to your flat until you are told it is safe to

Block management companies should provide fire evacuation procedures to all residents, detailing evacuation routes, meeting points, and the location of any fire alarms and extinguishers. 

If you are a resident in a block of flats, and don’t have access to fire safety, or evacuation procedures, contact your residential block management company as soon as possible. 

If You Are Unable to Evacuate

If you are unable to escape due to smoke, flames, or heat, ensure that all fire doors in your flat are closed, and try to seal any gaps. If possible, also keep windows closed as fires can speed via open windows. Call emergency services to notify them that you are still in the building. 

Main Causes of Fires in Flats

The main causes of fires in residential blocks of flats are from within individual units, rather than communal areas. These include: 

  • Electrical faults and overloaded sockets
  • Cigarettes
  • Chip and frying pans
  • Candles

Property owners, landlords, and residential block management companies  have a duty to ensure fire safety within communal areas, but cannot manage how residents act in their properties day-to-day. It is up to the individual residents to be responsible for fire safety in their own units. 

Preventing Fires in Flats

Prevention is always the best way to protect yourself from fires in flats. Residential block management companies are responsible for fire safety in communal areas of flats, but residents need to keep an eye on the following:

  • Regularly test smoke detectors
  • Ensure that fire doors are well maintained, and contact your block management company if not
  • Keep fire doors closed, especially at night
  • Do not leave exposed flamed unattended (candles, gas stoves, cigarettes)
  • Do not overload electrical outlets 
  • Contact your block management company if an electrical outlet seems faulty

Block Management Company in Leeds

Valor Properties is a leading residential block management company in Leeds and across West Yorkshire. We have a wealth of experience in block property management and health and safety compliance, ensuring a block management service second to none.

If your current development is in need of a new block management company, get in touch with us today to learn more about our block property management service in Leeds.