London Fire Brigade

Brigade’s warning to high rise landlords

23 March 2015

We're warning the capital's high rise landlords that they must do more to protect their tenants from fire as new figures reveal that there are nearly two blazes  everyday* in London's purpose-built flats.

Figures

Today's figures are released as a Brigade survey revealed half of high rise residents are still likely to make potentially lethal decisions in the event of a fire in their block.

Around 50% say they would get out of their flat even if the fire was elsewhere in the block, which can be the most dangerous thing to do unless the smoke or fire is directly affecting your home.

Video

The Brigade has produced a video called What the BLEEP would you do? Which shows what it's like to walk out into the scene of a fire. 

The call is part of the Know the Plan campaign, which was launched following a recommendation to increase public awareness of fire safety for people living in high rise buildings made by the Coroner following the inquest into the 2009 Lakanal tower block fire, where six people died.

London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner Rita Dexter said: "These figures are very concerning. Landlords are responsible for ensuring their tenants have the information they need to make a safe choice should they be faced with a fire in their home.

"Flats and maisonettes are built to give some protection from fire – walls, floors and doors will hold back flames and smoke for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 – so if there is a fire elsewhere in the building but not inside your home you are usually safer staying in your flat unless the fire or smoke is directly affecting you.

"Staying put if you know there is a fire in your building may go against your natural instincts but if you leave your flat you could be running into danger such as choking smoke or equipment being used to fight the fire elsewhere in the block."

Finchley

In Finchley last year residents had a lucky escape when a tumble dryer caught fire in a  third floor flat and people from other flats in the block started to leave the building only to be faced with burning debris and glass which was falling from the affected flat onto their escape route.

Landlords are also responsible for communal areas in purpose built blocks such as hallways, stairways and corridors and the Brigade wants to see them do more to ensure they are kept clear.

Last year, firefighters attended 514 fires affecting communal areas – almost one a day. As well providing fuel for fires clutter such as baby buggies, bikes and rubbish  can slow down firefighters trying to reach a fire and save residents.

The Brigade's Know the Plan campaign has seen a 70% increase in the number of flat dwellers saying they now have an escape plan in the event of a fire in their flat.

Notes to editors

  • *1.9 per day or 684 in 2014
  • YouGov polling was carried twice during the Brigades 12 month Know the Plan campaign which was launched last March. It used a representative sample of 2,899 Londoners – 24% of which lived in purpose built blocks of flats giving a sample of 715 people for subsequent questions. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+)
  • The 2011 census recorded 3,387,255 homes in London of which 1,274,526 were flats/maisonettes in purpose built blocks.