London Fire Brigade

Fire chiefs urge Olympic renters to keep guests safe

09 May 2012

London  fire chiefs are writing to letting agents advising  them to ensure that home-owners cashing in on the Olympics do not fall foul of fire safety laws  and put lives at risk.

With the start of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games a little more than two months away and accommodation in the capital at a premium, many Londoners are thinking about making some extra money by advertising their spare rooms to visitors.

However  fire chiefs want to ensure  that these ‘casual landlords’ are aware, that by inviting paying guests into their homes, they will need to comply with fire safety laws. Not doing so will not only leave people open to prosecution  it could also put lives at risk.

To get this message across and help people who are thinking of letting out a room keep their guests safe, the Brigade is contacting letting agents that are advertising ‘Olympic rooms.’ It is asking companies to publish simple advice on their websites which tells people what they need to do. It is also writing to councils and other organisations that may deal with potential Olympic landlords.

The London Fire Brigade’s advice is:

If anyone pays to stay in your property during the Olympics – or at any other time – other than to live there as a permanent home, you must comply with the [Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005]  There are three essential things you need to do:

1) make sure you’ve carried out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of your property, and take action to address any significant fire risks you identify.
2) make sure you’ve got an adequate fire detection and warning system in place i.e  fit smoke alarms on every level of your home.
3) make sure there’s an adequate escape route and guests know what to do if there’s a fire.

Deputy Commissioner of London Fire Brigade, Rita Dexter said: “We want everyone visiting London to have a safe and enjoyable Olympics and that includes not becoming a victim of fire. It is essential that those Londoners thinking of making a bit of extra cash by letting out a spare room during the Games are aware of their responsibilities under the law. If people ignore their responsibilities under fire laws, not only could they be prosecuted, they could be putting  lives at risk. The message is simple, look around your home, make sure it is safe, ensure paying guests know how to get out in the event of a fire and install adequate smoke alarms.”

Ends

Notes to editors
• Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, if you provide any guest accommodation,  the responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment. Even if it is your own home, if you have paying guests, you must comply with the law on fire safety and carry out a fire risk assessment. A fire in small premises is just as dangerous as one in a larger property. The majority of fire deaths occur in domestic premises.

• A fire risk assessment is  a thorough look at your premises and the people who are likely to use them, including the elderly, very young children and disabled people. It considers the risk of a fire breaking out and what measures you need to put in place to prevent it and keep people safe.
• If you do not carry out a fire risk assessment you are breaking the law, and you could be putting people’s lives at risk. You may be inspected by the fire service ,as part of its responsibility to enforce the law or, someone staying with you may report you to them if they feel at risk.

• If you are inspected by the fire service, it will want to see  that you have carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and done the things you need to make the premises safe from fire. If the fire service doesn’t consider the measures in place are sufficient to adequately protect people it  may work with the responsible person  and advise how things can be put right or it may serve an enforcement notice on the responsible person that means they must put in place better fire safety measures. Ultimately, and usually as a last resort it can  take legal action.