London Fire Brigade

Boxing Day clutter warning for high rise residents

26 December 2014

Boxing Day clutter putting lives of high rise residents at risk warns London Fire Brigade
We’re warning Londoner’s living in high rise and purpose built flats not to put lives at risk by blocking their stairways and hallways with Christmas clutter if they have a Boxing Day clear out. 

With our firefighters already being called to a blaze a day in the communal areas of the capital’s high rise and purpose built flats, we want people to think carefully about how they get rid of their wrapping paper, packaging  and trees once the celebrations are over.

Clutter hazard

Clutter, whether it’s discarded Christmas trees and packaging or year round hazards such as buggies, bikes, mattresses and potted plants, can block  residents’ fire escape routes, hamper our firefighters who are trying to tackle the fire, or are often the cause of fires in the first place.

Over 500 fires last year in communal areas

Last year (2013/14) there were 514 fires which affected the capital’s communal areas, such as hallways, stairways and corridors, in purpose built and high rise blocks - an increase of 65 on the previous year’s figures. This is more than 40 fires affecting communal areas per month.

What we say

Our deputy head of fire safety regulation Mark Andrews said:

“We all know what it’s like to be drowning in discarded boxes and wrapping paper after Christmas but leaving that rubbish to block stairways and corridors is a fire hazard which puts lives at risk.

“This is a big problem for our crews at this time of year. As well as providing fuel for fires, Christmas rubbish and other items such as pushchairs or bikes left to block communal areas will become a dangerous obstacle that can slow down firefighters trying to reach a fire and save residents.

“It’s the responsibility of landlords to keep communal areas clear and ensure their property has a suitable fire safety plan. Residents can help by not storing items in communal areas because these can cause fires that spread quickly.”

Know the Plan

The call is part of the Brigade’s Know the Plan campaign which is designed to increase fire safety awareness for both landlords and residents of purpose built high rise blocks. Landlords and residents can find out more at  www.knowtheplan.co.uk

London Fire Brigade is asking councils, private landlords and freeholders, who are responsible for communal areas in their properties, to do more to ensure they are kept clear. It is their duty to carry out fire risk assessments and ensure that  tenants know their escape routes and understand what to do in the event of a fire in their block. Residents should also report items causing blockages to their landlords.