In 2011, two tenants were killed when a fire tore through the property they rented in Walthomstow, London. The fire could have easily been avoided had their landlord, Muhammad Ashraf, installed fire detectors, smoke alarms, and fire-fighting equipment, all of which could can been highlighted in a Fire Risk Assessment. Ashraf was ordered to pay more than £22,000 in costs and given a six-month suspended sentence for the deaths of his tenants.
This is just one of many tragic cases where a landlord’s inability to implement basis fire safety precautions has led to the deaths of their tenants.
Every landlord has a responsibility to ensure their rental property is safe and tenants are protected from potential hazards and dangers. By failing to implement fire safety precautions you could be criminally prosecuted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005.
If you want to protect your tenants and property from fire but you’re unsure where to start, here’s our fire safety guide for landlords.
It’s vital that you regularly carry out a fire risk assessment. By identifying any potential hazards, you can implement necessary precautions and minimise the risk of fire.
Although you may be able to conduct this fire risk assessment yourself, it’s often wise to recruit a fire safety professional to help. They’ll know exactly what to look for and they’ll be able to spot potential hazards you may overlook.
All landlords are required by law to install smoke detectors to every storey of each property they let out. You’ll also need to have carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with fireplaces or wood burners.
It’s vital that all tenants within the property are able to escape in the event of a fire. If your tenant becomes trapped, the consequences could be fatal. Many landlords have been prosecuted for failing to provide tenants with a suitable means of escape in a fire.
If you provide furnished or partly-furnished properties, you’re legally required to ensure all furniture and furnishings you provide are fire safe. White goods must also be checked, if they’re supplied by you.
Some landlords are required by law to install fire doors throughout their rental properties, while for other landlords it’s simply a wise precaution. You can find out which rules apply to your property through gov.uk.
A fire door can help to compartmentalise a fire and prevent it from travelling from room to room. Not only can this protect your property and its contents from damage, it can also save lives. So even if you aren’t legally required to install fire doors to your rental property, it may be wise to introduce them anyway.
By ensuring that you fulfil legal requirements and exceed expectations, not only can you protect your property from damage and avoid fines and prosecution, you can save lives too. Fire safety in rental properties is not something to be taken lightly, so if you need any advice or to book a Fire Risk Assessment in Manchester or any surrounding area in the North of England please get in touch with the team at Total Fire Services.
In the run up to Christmas it’s likely that the last thing on your mind is paperwork, but at this time of the year it is absolutely essential that your business has relevant and updated fire risk assessments in place. Obviously you should endeavour to have an up to date fire risk assessment throughout the year, but the festive season in particular brings a range of new challenges which must be accounted for. Here are some of the things you should consider when reviewing your company’s fire risk assessments this Christmas.
When you decorate any workspace with tinsel, paper chains, and Christmas trees, you are essentially making your premises several times more flammable in one fell swoop. Now we’re no scrooges, and every workplace looks better with a little seasonal sprucing up, but it makes sense to try and source flame retardant decorations if you can. With trees this is rarely possible, as both natural and plastic Christmas trees catch fire easily, so in this instance make sure your risk assessments account for this extra level of risk.
You should also think carefully about the installation of decorations. This may sound like overkill, but making sure someone has the right ladders to put up some tinsel can make a huge difference. Never block any exits or fire escapes with your decorations, make sure all electrical wiring and fusing complies with safety standards, avoid placing decorations near or around sensors and fire-fighting equipment, and keep all decorations away from any potential source of heat.
For many businesses Christmas is a time of huge upheaval in terms of personnel, so your fire risk assessments should accurately reflect this. Do you have a large amount of temporary staff over the holiday season? Are you welcoming employees from another branch for a Christmas do? If so, your assessments need to account for the increase in people on site, in terms of both escape plans and responsibilities.
You should also make plans regarding any absences over Christmas. Many people take holidays or switch jobs around this time of year, so if any of them have health and safety responsibilities you must ensure these tasks are covered. Fire risk assessment should account for anyone working for you at any point over Christmas, not those who left six months ago.
Whether it’s an increase in stock because of a Christmas rush, or it’s a load of boxes of decorations and food for the office party, you’ll probably have a lot more stuff to store over Christmas, and your risk assessment should take this into account. Update your records to reflect the increased stock levels and the presence of any flammable materials being stored, and delegate responsibility to your employees on site to keep these extra materials away from fire exits or hazards.
Christmas is a chance for everyone to let their hair down after a year of hard work, but unfortunately it is also a time when tragic accidents can take place. By taking a careful and considered look at your fire safety risk assessments ahead of time, you can provide a safe environment for your employees to work and relax in before spending time with their families this Christmas. For more advice have a look at our 6 ways to ensure Fire Safety in the Workplace.
To everyone across Manchester, The North West and The UK – Total Fire Services wishes you a very Merry Christmas. Stay safe, and have fun.
What they say
"Due to internal resource issues we at Chessington World Of Adventures were struggling to meet our commitments of having "suitable and sufficient" fire risk assessment for all of our buildings and Rides on site. Meeting the challenge of maintaining our continued commitment to having "suitable and sufficient" fire risk assessments in place for all of our buildings and Rides on site required us to search for a competent third party supplier who could deliver our needs at a reasonable cost"
Kevin Bainbridge, Head of Safety & Technical Services[mc4wp_form]