Swan takes the matter of fire very seriously. Swan has a Primary Authority Partnership with London Fire Brigade (LFB) ensuring that we have a consistent approach to our Fire Safety advice across all of our estates in Essex and East London. Our residents also have a role to play in keeping each other safe. Many of our Swan residents live in a block of flats, so it is especially important to understand fire safety procedures.
Fire Safety Update November 2020
Swan Housing Association take the safety of its residents very seriously and we are currently reviewing the latest Government advice on Fire Risk Assessments and cladding remediation in order to understand how this will apply in practice. We, like the whole sector, await more information from the Government on several key points. Namely, the definition of cladding (to be clear whether the newest guidance applies to all external facades with the exemption of brickwork), the method of presenting safety information for lenders and what they require from a landlord. In addition, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors are working with lenders, valuers and fire safety bodies to develop new advice for surveyors and when their guidance becomes available, we will work as quickly as we can to understand and respond to this and will come back to residents once we have more clarity around this latest advice.
Fire Safety Update October 2020
Our residents' safety is paramount, so we are currently undertaking a programme of Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) to all of our properties that are five storeys high and above. These include our supported housing properties (even lower rise) including those on our Bow Cross Estate. We will take whatever action is necessary to comply with the latest Government recommendations. The FRAs in place for Bow Cross have confirmed that all appropriate fire safety measures are in place with no actions outstanding.
Information on: cladding, fire safety and re-mortgaging, staircasing or selling your home can be found here.
General Fire Safety Advice
- Remember to check your smoke alarm at least once a month.
- Familiarise yourself with your building and the fire exits. Make sure that you and everyone living in your home know the exits for your building should they be required in the event of an emergency.
- Close all internal doors when you go to bed or leave your home.
- Take care in the kitchen; never leave your cooking unattended and take extra care when cooking with hot oil.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully.
- Keep matches away from children.
- Don’t overload electrical sockets.
- Do not store flammable liquids such as petrol in your home, bin store or chutes.
- If you require oxygen to assist a medical condition, please ensue you have informed Swan.
More than five fires a day are started by candles and every three days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette. To help prevent these types of fires, never leave burning candles unattended and make sure you blow them out before you leave the room or go to bed. Matches should always be kept out of reach and locked away where children can’t find them. Make sure your ashtray or candle holder is sturdy and can’t tip over and cause a fire.
If a fire breaks out in your home or flat, everyone in your home should immediately leave the room and close the door behind you, moving as far away from the fire as possible. Do not use the lift in these circumstances as there is a risk of becoming trapped. You should call the fire services on 999 urgently. Wait outside for the emergency services to arrive and tell them as much as you know about where and how the fire started.
If a fire breaks out in another part of your block of flats, you should stay in your home unless you are directly affected by heat or smoke or until the fire services say it’s safe to leave. You should call the Fire Service 999 immediately and let them know where you are so they can easily find you. If you leave your home, close the front door behind you and use the nearest fire escape before waiting outside and away from the building.
Obstructions in Corridors and on Balconies
Balconies should not be used to store large amounts of items and must never be used to store flammable materials as this can cause or worsen a fire. It is okay to store easily movable furniture such as chairs, but you should try to keep your balcony as empty as possible. Hazardous items including plastic storage sheds and fixed washing lines are not allowed on balconies.
Equally, you should make sure your corridor is kept clear so that no items result in a hazard. Door mats are strictly not allowed and will be removed should they be seen outside any front doors. Bicycles and pushchairs etc. must not be left in the corridor as they can pose a serious threat when trying to access the corridor in an emergency.
The easiest way to protect your home and family from the onset in case of a fire is to ensure your smoke alarm is working. You may need more than one and they should be tested at least once a month to make sure they are in working condition.
Fire Safety in the Kitchen
Over half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents. There are several things you can do to help prevent a fire happening in your kitchen:
- Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing that could easily catch fire.
- Keep tea towels away from the hob.
- Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order; a build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
- Take special care when deep fat frying. If the oil starts to smoke it is too hot and could catch fire. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
- Do not leave the kitchen unattended when cooking or if you must leave, then take any pans off the heat or turn them down.
- Make sure you turn off all appliances when you have finished cooking.
Around 7,000 house fires every year are caused by faulty electrics in the home. Here are some tips to help you avoid an electrical fire:
- Make sure that all electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them.
- Don’t buy cheap, counterfeit chargers for items with Lithium batteries.
- Unplug appliances that are not in use, especially heaters and irons.
- Be aware of dangerous signs from loose wiring such a scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason, or flickering lights.
- Remember to check hidden cables and leads such as behind furniture or under carpets or mats.
- Never cover electrical wires with clothing.
- Always check that you use the right fuse in plugs and the recommended bulb wattage in light fittings to prevent overheating.
For more information, click here.
On average, there is one fire each day in London that is caused by faulty white goods such as fridges and tumble dryers. Sometimes this is not the fault of the owner but of the manufacturer who made the goods and they may recall certain makes and models because a fault is known to develop that compromises safety. This is the responsibility of the manufacturer and they should contact any customers who purchased these goods to make sure a repair, replacement or refund is given to the owner of the product.
It is important to register your electrical appliances when you first purchase them as it makes it easier for manufactures to contact the owners should anything go wrong. You can easily register your appliances at www.registermyappliance.org.uk.
Many people are unaware that their appliance could be dangerous or faulty. There are one million recalled faulty tumble dryers still in use in British homes. If you want to check your appliance and make sure it hasn’t been recalled you can visit the manufactures website or go to: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
Fire Safety Features in your Home and Making Changes
Did you know that your front door is your main defense against fire? Even if you live in a flat, your front door will help stop fire from spreading into communal areas and escape routes. That’s why all front doors in blocks of flats should be fire resistant, to prevent fire from spreading. Front doors of flats have a self-closing device to fit with current fire safety guidance; please never remove this. You must also be aware that even if you slightly alter your door to add a letterbox or add a cat flap then this could affect the fire safety of your home and the entire building.
If you want to make changes to your fire-resistant door, you must first seek written approval from Swan so we can properly assess the fire safety implications. If your door or letterbox has been damaged, you should report it to Axis for inspection and repair. Leaseholders are responsible for making repairs to their front doors, but Axis will repair letter boxes.
Your home has been designed by Swan with safety at the forefront, so there are various things such as signage, smoke alarms, heat detectors, door closers, fire resistant glazing, fire resistant panels, sprinklers, automatic opening vents on some stairways and other fire safety features that are in place to help keep you safe. Everyone’s safety depends on these safety features; please do not remove or damage them.
If you do spot any damage that could impact fire safety, such as broken smoke alarms, heat detectors or door closers within your property or communal areas please call Axis on 0800 783 276.
For more information and for the latest advice on fire safety visit: www.fireservice.co.uk