London Fire Brigade

Brigade calls on councillors to turn up heat on fire safety

25 July 2014

London Fire Brigade is calling on councillors from all 33 of the capital’s local authorities to make sure they are using their scrutiny powers to keep London’s  estates safe from fire.

The Brigade has published two separate councillor guides on fire safety and these have now been made available to all elected members of London’s local authorities.

The first, for use during council meetings, outlines strategic and policy questions to ask about the fire safety of purpose-built blocks of flats and maisonettes, while the second focuses on what councillors should look out for during estate visits, and questions they should to put to managers and wardens .

Publication of the guides  follows research commissioned by the Brigade which showed 60% of all high rise residents – or around 760,000 high rise households don’t have a fire escape plan. Fifty per cent said they would get out of their flat even if the fire was somewhere else in the block, which can be the most dangerous thing to do when a fire is not affecting your home.

To tackle the confusion head on, the Brigade has launched a new campaign and website,  www.knowtheplan.co.uk to help ensure landlords and housing providers act on their fire safety responsibilities and people living flats and maisonettes in purpose built blocks have a clear understanding of what to do in a fire.

London Fire Brigade’s Deputy Commissioner Rita Dexter believes, with their role as community leaders, enforcing authorities, partners to emergency services and as landlords themselves, local authorities and their elected members have a vital role to play in ensuring and promoting fire safety within their boroughs and promoting campaign work such as Know the Plan.

She said: “It’s important that councillors don’t make assumptions that fire safety is being actively or effectively managed in purpose built blocks of flats and maisonettes in their boroughs, whoever is responsible for that housing. 

“By scrutinising how responsibilities for fire safety are met in their area and ensuring that the fire safety in their borough is continuously monitored and improved, elected members not only help get our fire safety messages out into the community, they can help prevent complacency when it comes to managing fire safety issues in the capital’s purpose built managed buildings.”

Notes to editors:

London Fire Brigade’s Know the Plan campaign has three main aims:

1. For all types of landlord and housing provider in London to check their responsibilities under fire safety law and ensure they communicate fire safety information and guidance.

2. Encourage people living in flats, purpose built blocks and maisonettes to visit www.knowtheplan.co.uk  and learn what to do in the event of a fire.

3. Ensure people living in purpose built flats and maisonettes know how to find fire safety information and who to find it from.

The results of a YouGov poll commissioned by the Brigade found that 24% of Londoners live in high rise or other purpose built blocks of flats/ maisonettes. Of these:

• Just 40% said they had an escape plan in the event of a fire in their flat/maisonette
• 50% said they would get out if there was a fire outside their flat but in their building while 44% said they would stay put and;
• Worryingly, while 71% said they would get out if there were a fire in their flat, 24% said they still would stay inside to call 999 rather than getting straight out.