Each year the Fire and Rescue Services attend over 50,000 fire related incidents in dwellings within the UK. Recent statistics show that people living in privately rented accommodation are seven times more likely to fall victim to a fire then those who are owner occupied. Both tenants and the owner have responsibilities in preventing fire.
In England and Wales there are two principle pieces of legislation which cover fire safety in housing:
- Housing Act 2004: Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRA)
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
For the landlord there is a list of responsibilities in relation to fire safety legislation and keeping your tenants fire safe. This includes:
- links to relevant legislation and guidance
- what landlords can reasonably expect of their tenants in maintaining fire safety in the property and within common parts of any shared premises.
As the tenant a simple risk assessment check list to enable you to check the safety of your accommodation with links to more detailed guidance where appropriate.
The housing act 2004 identifies 29 categories of potential hazards, one of which is Fire.
Under HHSRA, a residential property should provide a safe and healthy environment.
The HHSRS Operating Guidance explains how to make an assessment of the fire hazard in a residential dwelling. The principle aim of an individual risk assessment is to reduce or eliminate hazards to health and safety in domestic accommodation. Full guidance documents can be found at www.gov.uk
When carrying out risk assessments, they are calculated into bands, which are then ranked into categories of either 1 or 2 hazards. Category 1 hazards action by the local authority and can result in enforcement action being taken.
Fire safety is assessed according to certain risk factors including:
- number of storeys
- layout of house
- distance to travel from farthest point to final exit
- number of occupiers in the dwelling
- type of occupation
- structural for precautions already in place
- fire detection and alarms systems provided.
In 2005 the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) order was put in place, this made the responsible person for a multi-occupied residential building (usually the landlord) must carry out and maintain a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment in communal areas to identify and provide adequate fire precautions and procedures to ensure the safety of all relevant persons. The Fire Safety Order does not apply to individual flats themselves.
Duties of the Responsible Person:
- Carry out a fire risk assessment
- Consider who may be at risk from fire
- Remove or reduce the risk from fire as reasonably practicable and provide general fire precautions to deal with any risk left
- Take other measures to ensure there is protection if flammable or explosives materials are used or stored
- Create a plan to deal with any emergency and in most cases keep a record of findings
- Review findings when necessary.