Keeping our residents and buildings safe from fire
We have a dedicated building safety team who work closely with qualified experts, including the London Fire Brigade, to keep our residents safe. They and other specialist teams monitor our buildings to make sure they’re safe and comply with the latest guidelines.
But we also need your help – to be vigilant and report any concerns – so we can address any possible issues immediately.
How we’re working to keep you safe:
- We regularly carry out Fire Risk Assessments on our buildings and deal with any issues promptly. (This includes checking external walls as outlined in the Fire Safety Act 2021)
- We install and maintain smoke and heat detectors in our rented homes. If you own your home, this is your responsibility.
- We regularly check the communal fire doors in the buildings we manage as they help stop the spread of fire and smoke. We also need to check flat entrance doors in buildings over 11m every year. You can find out more about the checks here.
- We make sure communal areas are clear and immediately remove anything flammable.
How you can help to keep yourself safe:
Please also check out the guide below as it has lots of useful information about keeping safe inside your home:
Alarms and detectors
- Whether you rent or own your home, you should have a smoke or heat detector (usually used in the kitchen) on every level of your home.
- We’re responsible for installing detectors inside the homes we rent, but you need to regularly check that they’re working. To do this, simply push the test button. If it’s on the ceiling, try using a broom handle.
- If your detector starts beeping, this means the battery’s low. Please don’t remove the battery until you’re ready to replace it with a new one. Never cover the detector to silence the beeping.
- If you think your detector might be faulty, please report it to us on 0300 123 3456.
- To find out more see the London Fire Brigade’s website.
- If you have a balcony, don’t forget that it’s part of a block and what you do or keep on it affects your neighbours.
- Don’t use it to store combustible items, such as furniture or white goods, or put up screens or fencing.
- Please remember that BBQs are not allowed on your balcony.
- Smoking on your balcony can be dangerous. If you do smoke, you must put your cigarette out and dispose of it in an ashtray. Never throw it over the side
- Lithium batteries are used on e-scooters and e-bikes and they’re one of the fastest growing causes of fires.
- If a fire starts, it spreads very quickly and it can be extremely difficult to escape from. This is why you must never block any exits with charging batteries, e-scooters or e-bikes.
- For guidance on how to use and charge lithium batteries safely see the London Fire Brigade website.
- Always BBQ outside, away from your home and any trees, sheds or other structures. BBQs on balconies are a major fire risk which is why they’re not allowed.
- Use firelighters to get your BBQ going. Never use petrol, paraffin or any flammable liquids.
- Keep a close eye on children and pets as accidents can happen easily around live flames.
- If you’re cooking, keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum – or ideally keep off alcohol altogether.
- Did you know? BBQs can stay hot for hours, so be really careful moving them. They also give off carbon monoxide fumes for several hours after they go out, so don't bring them indoors with you.
You’re more at risk from fire at night so it’s good to carry out a few quick and simple checks before you go to bed:
- Close before you doze! Make sure all inside doors are closed as this stops a fire from spreading.
- Turn off and unplug electrical appliances (unless of course they’re designed to be left on, such as your fridge or freezer).
- Check your cooker is turned off.
- Don’t run washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers or other appliances overnight.
- Don’t charge phones, laptops, toys, e-bikes or e-scooters overnight.
- Turn off heaters and put up fireguards.
- Put out candles and cigarettes properly.
- Make sure all exits are kept clear.
- Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.
- Put out any candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room and always before you go to bed.
- Use firm, heat resistant holders and place them on flat, stable surfaces.
- Keep them away from materials that may catch fire such as curtains, furniture and clothes.
- To avoid accidents, keep candles and other naked flames out of reach of children and pets – or, where possible, consider buying LED, battery-operated candles instead.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as a silent killer because you can’t taste, see or smell it, yet the fumes are highly poisonous and cause around 50 deaths and hundreds of injuries every year.
- Poisoning from CO can happen in a matter of minutes or over an extended period of time – it depends on the amount of CO in the air. The symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
Here are some of the warning signs to look out for:
- Symptoms only occur when you’re in your home and disappear or get better when you leave.
- Others in your home are experiencing similar symptoms (including your pets).
- Black, sooty marks on the front covers of gas fires.
- Sooty or yellow/brown stains on or around boilers, stoves or fires.
- If you get any symptoms when appliances are in use, such as when the boiler is on.
- Increased condensation on the windows.
- Pilot lights frequently blowing out.
- Yellow instead of blue flames coming from gas appliances or the flames aren’t fully formed (e.g. if the flame isn’t all the way round on a gas hob burner).
What to do if you suspect CO poisoning:
- Open doors and windows to ventilate and let fresh air in.
- If it’s safe to do so, switch the gas appliance off.
- Get outside into the fresh air as quickly as you can.
- Get medical advice by contacting your GP or going to hospital. Make sure you tell them you suspect CO poisoning.
- Before you return to your home, it’s very important you call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 and tell them what’s happened.
- Let us know too by calling the Customer Hub on 0300 123 34567.
You can find more information about Carbon monoxide on the Health and Safety Executive website.
More fires and fire injuries are caused by carelessness in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home.
- If you have to leave the kitchen whilst you’re cooking, please don’t leave pans unattended. The safest thing to do is swich off the hob and take pans off the heat until you come back in.
- When you’ve finished cooking, double-check that everything is off – including the oven and hob - and that any hot surfaces are clear.
- Be careful of wearing loose clothing when you cook and keep tea towels and dish cloths clear of the hob or cooker.
- Over time, grease can build up in the oven, hob and extractor. Keeping them clean will reduce the risk of fire.
- Don’t cook if you’re feeling tired, have been drinking alcohol or are on medication that makes you feel drowsy.
- If you use a toaster, make sure it’s not directly below cupboards when in use.
The London Fire Brigade also has information about cooking safely here on their website.
E-bikes and e-scooters
E-bikes and e-scooters are a popular means of getting around. However, the number of incidents, including fatal fires, that are caused by not storing or charging them properly, is unfortunately rising. According to the latest figures from the London Fire Brigade, they dealt with 116 incidents in 2022. That’s why, if you use one and keep it at home, you need to follow these essential do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t store e-bikes or e-scooters near the entrance to your home or anywhere near a through route or escape route. If you have a garage or shed, store them there.
- The riskiest time for e-bike and e-scooter fires to take place is when you’re charging their lithium batteries so it’s vital that your battery and charger meet UK safety standards (see ‘batteries’ above for more useful advice) and you should only buy official ones from a reputable seller.
- Don’t modify your battery or charger in any way – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- As soon as your e-bike or e-scooter is charged, unplug the charger. Never leave them charging overnight.
- Make sure there’s a smoke alarm in the area where you charge your e-bike or e-scooter and test it regularly.
You can find out more about how to store and charge e-bikes and e-scooters safely, here on the National Fire Chief Council's website.
Faulty electrical goods can cause fires. If you’re concerned about the safety of a product, stop using it and tell the retailer, manufacturer or your local Trading Standards office. You’ll find a list of recalled faulty products on the London Fire Brigade’s website.
Tips for keeping safe:
- Make sure all electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark and are kept clean and in good working order.
- Empty fluff regularly from your tumble dryer in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also occasionally clean the extractor using a brush or gentle vacuuming.
- Always switch off hair straighteners and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface.
- Keep to one plug per socket. High-powered appliances such as washing machines, should have a single socket to themselves.
- Always check that you’re using the right fuse. Typical examples include: 3A fuse for a table lamp, television, computer, blender, fridge or freezer. And a 13A fuse for a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, kettle, toaster or iron.
- If you have to use an adaptor, use a fused ‘in line’ type. But don’t overload it by adding extra plug-in adaptors or using high-current appliances such as electric heaters.
Escape routes: make sure you have a plan
- Your best escape route is the way you normally go in and out of your home. However, there are likely to be several different ways you can get out in an emergency. Make sure you’re familiar with all the options in case your first option is affected or not safe to use.
- Move into the stairway as quickly as possible as these have fire doors and are usually enclosed and ventilated.
- Always keep door or window keys nearby and make sure everyone knows where they are. A torch is also useful in case you need to get out at night.
- Never obstruct escape routes with things like pushchairs, bikes or shoes.
- Most fire and rescue services offer free home visits and can provide advice and recommendations on escape routes. If you live in London, you can find out more or book a visit using the London Fire Brigade website. If you live outside London, you can contact a particular fire and rescue service.
- Practise walking the entire escape route regularly.
- Let us know if any part of your escape route is blocked or not accessible.
Evacuation strategies (full evacuation, stay put and evacuation alert)
If you live in a purpose-built block, there will be three strategies in the unlikely event of a fire:
- Full evacuation. You should do this if the fire is in your flat, or there’s a fire in another part of the building and you hear the alarm.
- Stay put. If the fire is in another part of the building, you’re usually safer staying inside your home. This is because each flat is built as a separate compartment which contains fire and stops it spreading. If the fire's inside your home or if you hear an alarm, you should get out.
- Evacuation alert system. There may be times when the emergency services only need to evacuate residents from certain floors in high rise buildings.
You’ll find the strategy for your building on the Fire Action Notice on your block noticeboard. If you’re not sure, please contact us.
Festive fire safety
If you have a live tree, remember it can dry out and become a fire hazard, so make sure you:
- Keep it well-watered.
- Place it away from heat sources.
- Dispose of it after the festive period (check your council website to find out their tree collection dates).
- Turn off all lights off before you go to bed and whenever you go out.
- Be careful not to overload sockets with lots of plugs from multiple strings of lights.
- Don’t let the bulbs touch anything that can easily burn.
Candles and tea lights:
- Put your candles or tea lights in snug-fitting holders on heat resistant surfaces.
- Extinguish all candles completely before you go to bed or if you go out.
- Place them away from curtains and out of any draughts.
- Make sure there’s more than a metre between your candles or tea lights and any surface above.
- Keep well out of reach of children and pets.
- Or, what about using LED, battery-operated, or electric candles? As well as being much safer, you can also use them outside!
Paper chains and other decorations:
- Wherever you decide to put your decorations, make sure they're well away from heaters, lights, candles and fireplaces.
- Christmas and New Year can mean lots of parties. If you're hosting or off to a party that involves buying a fancy dress outfit, check first that it's fire retardant in accordance with the EN71-2 safety standard.
Fire Action Notice
All of our buildings with two or more flats have a Fire Action Notice, explaining what residents and visitors need to do in the unlikely event of a fire. They are usually displayed on the wall in the lobby.
Public displays are the safest way to enjoy fireworks. You’ll find details of any local events on your council’s website. If you do want to let off fireworks at home, please follow these top tips:
- Before you start, read the Fireworks Code
- Never set off fireworks or start fires anywhere near your property, including in the garden or on balconies.
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark. Keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework.
- Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it’s been lit.
- Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
- Keep pets indoors - many are scared by the loud noises.
- Remind yourself of the fire and safety regulations for your building.
- In an emergency, phone 999 and ask for the fire service.
Flat front doors
- Flat front doors play a vital role in keeping everyone safe in your building as they are fire and smoke resistant. The minimum requirement for flat front doors is that they provide at least 30 minutes fire and smoke resistance
- They have self-closers, which is the mechanism that closes your front door automatically. This is really important as, if a fire were to break out they stop fire, smoke and fumes from getting out into communal areas, escape routes and other flats in the block.
- Under the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, we need to check all flat front doors in buildings over 11metres (five storeys) once a year, whether you rent or own your home. Find out more about what the checks involve and why they’re so important.
- Self-closers must never be tampered with. If the self-closer on your front door doesn’t work every time, or if your front door is damaged in any way, please let us know so we can make sure it’s fixed and provides you and your neighbours with protection if a fire were to break out
- Always secure portable heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters.
- Never dry clothes on your heaters.
- Keep heaters well away from curtains and furniture.
- Don’t sit too close to a heater – keep at least one metre away.
- When you switch your heater off, let it cool down before moving it.
- Paraffin, kerosene, or calor gas in portable gas heaters can be extremely dangerous. They can increase the risk of fire and explosion and also give off carbon monoxide. This can put your life and the lives of your neighbours at risk.
Resident evacuation plans
It's important that you and the emergency services are prepared and have the right information to deal with incidents effectively. This includes knowing if anyone in your household might need support, for example because they have a disability, or can’t use the stairs, hear alarms or move quickly. To help with that, we’ve created a short online survey for you to provide details of any issues that could impact on the ability of people in your household to get out of your building.
- What to do if someone needs support to get out in an emergency
If someone needs support, have you arranged for this to be put in place? If not, you should contact your local council as they may be able to help provide this kind of assistance. You can find your council’s web address here on the government's website.
- How the information’s used
The information will be stored in a secure premises information box (or PIB), which can only be accessed by the emergency services. You can find out more about PIBs on the National Fire Chief Council website.
More deaths are caused by fire from smoking (including cigarettes, roll-ups, cigars and pipes) than any other type of fire.
- If you smoke, put out your cigarettes completely and dispose of them properly.
- It’s safer to smoke outside but, if you have a balcony, don’t throw cigarettes, etc. over the side.
- If you do smoke indoors, never smoke in bed.
- If you’re feeling tired, don’t smoke in armchairs and sofas and don’t balance lit cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray or anything else.
- Run water on your ashtray before you empty it.
- Take extra care when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
- If you use a vape, only use the charger that came with it. Always check the battery for damage, buy from a reputable seller and don’t leave it charging for extended periods.
Fire safety in your building
- Keep all communal areas, including corridors, walkways and stairwells, clear at all times.
- Don’t store bikes, buggies, scooters, plant pots, shoes, or rubbish there. This is a fire risk.
- Cluttered communal areas stop you getting out and the emergency services getting in.
- If you find any items or rubbish in communal areas, please contact us on 0300 123 3456.
Communal service cupboards
- Don’t store personal belongings in communal service cupboards. These are for gas, water or electrical services and should be kept locked.
- If you notice a cupboard that has a damaged or open door or is full of items, please contact us as soon as possible.
Fire action notice
We display a Fire Action Notice in the entrance of all our buildings. It’s a legal requirement and tells residents and visitors what to do in the unlikely event of a fire.
- Never prop open the communal doors in your building. In the unlikely event of a fire, these prevent fire and smoke from spreading.
- If you see a door that’s propped open, close it immediately.
- We check the doors regularly (each quarter), but if you see a door that’s damaged, please contact us as soon as possible on 0300 123 3456.
Gas cylinder devices
Gas cylinder devices, such as portable gas heaters, gas-fuelled barbecues and blow torches, can cause fire or explosions. So we don't allow them to be used or stored anywhere on our estates, including on balconies, in roof-top gardens, communal gardens and indoor communal areas.
If you have these items, please contact your local council to arrange for their disposal.
High-rise buildings - 18 metres (seven storeys) or higher
Keeping residents and the buildings you live in safe is our top priority, irrespective of height, and we have robust measures in place to ensure we achieve this. For our high-rise buildings, we also need to follow fire and building safety regulations that are specific to buildings 18 metres (seven storeys) or higher. Find out more about these on our high-rise building web page.
What to do if a fire breaks out
- Follow the evacuation strategy for your building (the section on evacuation strategies above has useful information about this).
- Call 999, ask for the Fire Brigade and give the building address.
- Call us on 0300 123 3456 to let us know about the fire.
- The Fire Brigade will let you know when it’s safe to go back inside.
- If the Fire Brigade doesn’t allow you back in, we or your local council will arrange temporary accommodation if you don’t have friends or family you can stay with.
Useful information, advice and tips from the London Fire Brigade
For more information or for tailored fire safety advice for your own home, see London Fire Brigade’s fire safety checker
If you’d prefer to talk to someone in person, you can arrange a free home safety visit. Find out more on the London Fire Brigade’s website. You can also call them free on 0800 028 4428, send them an email or text them on 07869 021319.