Smoke alarms save lives, but only when they are working properly.
Fire is one of the biggest risks to you in your home. To reduce the likelihood of this happening we:
- Service your boiler once a year
- Test the electrical installation in your home - sockets, wiring and the fuseboard. Find out more about electrical testing here.
- Install smoke detectors in your home
If you live in a block of flats, we also:
- Carry out regular fire risk assessments
- Test fire alarm systems on a weekly basis
- Carry out monthly health and safety checks.
There are specific laws that apply to fire safety in blocks of flats, which are in place to keep you safe, including ensuring that the entrance door to your flat is a fire door. It’s really important that you report any damage or repairs that are needed as soon as possible, and that you don’t alter the door by:
- Removing door closers
- Installing letterboxes, cat flaps or spy holes.
These alterations can affect the integrity of the door, which would mean it wouldn’t be effective at preventing the spread of fire through the building.
It's also really important that all our customers in rented homes, that have a fire door into their home, report any repairs that need carrying out to it. The fire door is an essential part of the passive fire protection of buildings and enables people to leave the building safely and prevent the fire from spreading.
Below is a four-step check for any fire doors in your property:
- Check the gaps – check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are consistently less than 4mm when closed. You can use a £1 coin to give a feel for scale, this is about 3mm thick. The gap under the door can be slightly larger (up to 8mm is not uncommon), but it does depend on the door – as a rule of thumb, if you can see light under the door, the gap is likely to be too big. If the gaps are too big smoke and fire could travel through the cracks. It’s good news if the door fits the frame and it’s not damaged. If not, report it.
- Check the seals – are there any seals around the door or frame, and are they intact with no sign of damage? These seals are usually vital to the fire door’s performance, expanding if in contact with heat to ensure fire (and in some cases smoke) can’t move through the cracks. If not, report it – the door may not be properly maintained and in the intensity of a fire may not protect you long enough.
- Check the hinges – are the hinges firmly fixed (three or more of them), with no missing or broken screws? If you see problems, report it - in the intensity of a fire, it may not perform and hold back the flames for long enough.
- Check the door closes properly – open the door about halfway, let go and allow it to close by itself. Does it close firmly onto the latch without sticking on the floor or the frame? If not, report it. A fire door only works when it’s closed. A fire door is completely useless if it’s wedged open or can’t close fully.
If you are a leaseholder, does your front and back door meet with fire regulations? If not, you could be in breach of your lease as well as putting your friends, family and neighbours at risk.
Your front and back doors should have a fire resistance of at least 30 minutes with a smoke seal fitted. This would allow you more time to escape a building and help to reduce the time a fire takes to spread.
Cat flaps in fire doors are not permitted as they compromise the fire and smoke integrity of the door and will not meet fire regulations.
Fire safety in communal areas
It’s really important that communal areas, hallways, corridors and landings are kept clear. This is to prevent fires from starting in the first place and to ensure you can get out safely in the event of a fire.
The stairways are the escape routes and must be kept completely clear. Fire doors must be kept closed, not propped open.
We have fire safety notices displayed on the communal noticeboards that tell you what is allowed in communal areas and what is not allowed. We maintain these areas weekly but please contact us to report any piles of rubbish or other items to us so we can take action.
Safe use of storage cupboards in communal areas
We want you to enjoy your home safely and therefore it is very important that you follow these guidelines which will reduce the risk of fire affecting your escape from the building. The guidance applies to anyone that uses a storage cupboard within the communal area fire escape route.
- You must keep the cupboard door locked and shut at all times when not in use.
- You should only store non-combustible materials in the cupboards.
- You must never store hazardous chemicals, compressed gas canisters or bottles, flammable liquids or sources of fuel such as charcoal.
- Where possible try to minimise the use of the cupboards for storage.
- You must not use the cupboards to store waste materials. Waste materials should be stored outside in the bins or taken to a local waste recycling centre.
- You must not block the fire escape route by leaving materials outside the store cupboards. You should load and/or unload immediately without leaving any items outside of the cupboard.
- You should only use the storage cupboard if you have written permission or it forms part of your tenancy or leaseholder agreement.
We would encourage all our customers to report any deviations to this guidance that present a fire risk.
Fire safety on balconies
We want you to be able to enjoy your balcony safely. If a fire started on your balcony, it could spread much faster than inside the building, putting lives and other homes and balconies at risk. It’s really important that you follow the below guidelines to keep you safe in your home.
What is allowed on your balcony:
- A reasonable amount of plants is fine. Just be careful of people below when watering them.
- A few items of patio furniture.
What is not allowed on your balcony:
- Barbeques or any form of fires or heaters
- Flammables such as paints and gas canisters
- Reeds or any other combustible screening
- Never throw cigarettes over your balcony
- Electricals such as fridges or washing machines.
How to reduce the risk of fire on your balcony:
- Always put your cigarette out fully, in an ashtray or bucket of water or sand
- Keep your balcony clean and free from clutter and rubbish.
What to do in an emergency (flats)
If there is a fire is in your block of flats there are two different actions you might take: stay where you are or evacuate the block with other residents.
If you evacuate (get out) please shut doors behind you if possible (to stop the spread of fire) and then call the fire service once you are out of the building.
There are notices in each block to tell you what we advise you to do for the building you live in. Please call the home ownership team IMMEDIATELY on 01305 216153 if you are not sure what to do if there is a fire where you live.
Mobility scooters, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboards
You must not store or charge your scooter, e-bike, e-scooter or e-skateboard in communal areas of the building where you live. You must use a dedicated charging point within a room fitted with smoke detection and 30 minutes of fire resistance. This short video shows what can happen if your scooter catches fire whilst charging.
How you can help keep your home safe from fire
We do our best to keep your homes safe from fire – but we need your help.
- Never leave candles or cooking unattended.
- Make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished.
- Test your smoke alarms weekly and replace the batteries when necessary.
- If you don’t have a smoke alarm contact us
- Make sure you know what to do if you do have a fire. Have an escape route planned.
- Keep your escape routes clear
- If there is anything that might prevent you escaping, please contact us for advice.
- f you’ve got an electric heater, keep it away from curtains and furniture and never use them to dry your clothes.
- If you’re looking to get an electric blanket, try to avoid buying second-hand ones and check them for wear and tear. Keep them unplugged when you’re not using them and test them once every three years - your local fire and rescue service may be able to help with this.
Any further advice
If your fire alarm / smoke detectors sound, get everyone out of the property. Close the doors (to stop the spread of fire) and call the fire service.
If you are worried about getting out of your property in time (for example, if you have mobility problems) please contact us. You can also call us if you are concerned about a vulnerable neighbour.
If you keep medical oxygen in your home, please let us know.
Free fire safety advice and leaflets
The fire service offers free 'safe and well' visits. If you would like them to visit your home, contact Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 038 2323 or book online at https://www.dwfire.org.uk/safety/safe-and-well-visits/.
There's also lots of useful information and leaflets to provide further advice at https://firekills.campaign.gov.uk.
Any other concerns?
We take the risk of fire very seriously. If you have any concerns at all about fire safety in your home, please contact us.