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One hundred days on from the Grenfell Tower disaster and London’s fire chiefs are using the anniversary to remind landlords and residents about their high rise fire safety responsibilities.
The cause and spread of the Grenfell fire, as well as the response to it, are the subject of an ongoing police investigation and public inquiry but the Brigade says there are key actions housing providers, landlords and residents of high-rise residential buildings can take to help prevent fires from occurring in the first place and to reduce the effects if a blaze breaks out .
Landlords, such as local authorities and housing associations, or building owners are responsible for maintaining up to date fire risk assessments for their buildings. These should identify any risks and hazards, which should be put right, as well as the general fire precautions required for the property.
Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said:
“One hundred days ago we saw the worst residential fire this country has ever seen. It is understandable people living in tower blocks have raised questions about their safety after such an horrific blaze but although this was an incident on an unprecedented scale, thankfully fires are rare.
“The building owner or landlord is responsible for making sure the building remains safe and this includes everything from ensuring fire doors are properly fitted to keeping escape routes free from clutter such as bikes and push chairs. They must also keep residents informed of what they need to do in the event of a fire.
“Having an up to date and detailed fire risk assessment is the single most helpful thing building owners and landlords can do to improve the safety of their residents and it is a legal requirement.“
Councils are London’s biggest landlord and the Brigade has been advising local authority housing providers to review and update their fire risk assessments. It has also been working with local authorities to distribute a fire safety guide for people who live in flats across the capital so they know how to keep safe from fire.
Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ Executive member for housing, said:
“Councils are working closely with the London Fire Brigade to make sure that Londoners are safe, both our own tenants and those of all landlords in London. Fire Risk Assessments are an essential part of this.
“The Government, our fire service, councils, and landlords all have a role in ensuring that this never happens again.”
Fire safety in purpose built flats and maisonettes is dependent on good maintenance and housekeeping and residents also have responsibility to play in supporting that by following this simple fire safety advice
• Make sure fire doors to the front of flats and onto corridors and staircases are kept closed and not left held or wedged open as they are designed to stop the spread of fire. All fire doors should also be fitted with a working, self closing mechanism.
• Don’t store things in corridors or on staircases as this can block escape routes and stop firefighters doing their job.
• Install smoke alarms and test them regularly. As a minimum you should have smoke alarms on each floor if you live in a maisonette - in the hallways and the rooms you use the most, plus a heat alarm in the kitchen.
• Be fire safety savvy – extinguish cigarettes properly if you are a smoker and don’t leave candles or cooking unattended
• Make sure you have a fire plan and that everyone in your home knows what to do in an emergency. If you are not sure what the fire plan is for your building contact your landlord or the building owner.