Fire safety advice - reading this cthereould save your life

We're all at home more than usual right now; cooking more often, plugging in more devices and possibly even smoking or drinking a little bit more. 

This could increase the risk of a fire so now is a good time to remind yourself about fire safety.

We've updated this section with lots of good advice to help reduce the risks, but please get in touch if you are worried.

Fire safety

Please take a minute to review our practical advice and information about how to avoid fires at home.

Smoke alarms

Please remember to:

  • Test your smoke alarms every month.
  • If an alarm fails the test let us know immediately, and we will replace it with the most appropriate and effective sensor.
  • Change any one-year batteries every year.
  • Only take the battery out when you need to replace it.
  • Vacuum your smoke alarm as this will remove dust and dirt that can stop it from working.

Please note:

If we have fitted hard-wired smoke detectors in your home, these are serviced annually by our heating engineers if you have gas central heating, or by our own maintenance operatives if your heating is electric or oil fired.

Please note that hard-wired smoke detectors have batteries fitted, even though they are wired in to the mains. This means that even if there is an electrical problem, the alarm will still be activated.

If we have fitted battery sealed-unit smoke detectors, these are replaced every seven years as part of our cyclical maintenance programme. We are aiming to replace all one-year battery alarms with hard-wired smoke alarms when they are due for renewal. 

We provide and maintain carbon monoxide detectors to properties that have back boilers, as part of the annual servicing programme.

Preventing kitchen fires

The kitchen is a very high risk area:

  • If you’re cooking on the hob don’t leave pans unattended, or leave children in the kitchen alone
  • Avoid cooking if you are under the influence of alcohol
  • If a pan catches fire do not attempt to move it. Only turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.
  • Never use water on an oil pan fire. Water will expand the oil and make the fire worse.
  • Keep matches out of children’s reach
  • Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – they may get knocked off the stove
  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order – if there’s a build-up of grease, it could catch fire
  • Take care when cooking with hot oil - it sets alight easily. If the oil starts to smoke, that means it's too hot so turn off the heat and leave it to cool down

Preventing electrical fires

Please help us to ensure your electrics are safe

It is a Health and Safety requirement to check the condition of your electrical installation, including the fuseboard, wiring, and fixtures such as sockets and switches, every 5 years.  We will arrange and pay for that test, but it is your responsibility to allow the electrician access to do the testing.

And follow this practical advice to reduce your fire risk

  • Avoid overloading plug sockets - keep to one plug per socket, espcially for high powered appliances like freezers and washing machines.
  • Chargers - always use the charger that came with your phone, laptop, e-cigarette or other mobile device.  It is dangerous to mix and match.
  • If you need to replace a charger, choose a genuine, branded version - beware of fakes which may not meet UK safety regulations.
  • Try not to over-charge devices, ie it is not a good idea to leave mobiles charging overnight, especially on your bed or under your pillow as batteries can get hot. 
  • Do not overload freezers or fridge freezers, especially older models.
  • If you have a tumble dryer, make sure to regularly remove the fluff that accumulates.
  • Don't leave or hang clothes within a meter of a heater - if they are too close they could catch fire.
  • If you use a portable heater, make sure it can't be knocked over. 
  • Check and replace any old wires or cables, especially if they are tucked away under carpets or behind furniture.
  • Unplug appliances when you are not using them, or when you go to bed.
  • Inform us immediately if you are concerned about the electrics in your property, espcecially if you notice a burn mark near a plug socket or cable.
  • Keep an eye on the Electrical Safety First page where you can register your appliances and check for any product recalls.

Smoking and candles

  • If you are a smoker, make sure you put out your cigarettes properly.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Be extra careful if you have been drinking alcohol or taking medication that could make you drowsy. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and start a fire.
  • Smoking is not allowed in communal areas.
  • Use a ceramic holder for candles and tea lights - never place them directly onto flammable surfaces such as a bookcase or TV.
  • Never place candles near flammable materials such as curtains or nets.
  • Make sure you extinguish candles before you leave home or go to bed.

Fire escape plan

Thinking about this now could save lives:

  • Plan your escape route and share it with everyone in your household
  • Count how many doors you might need to go through to escape (in a smoke-filled room it can be hard to see and you might become confused about where you are) and think of an alternative route in case the first one is blocked
  • Make sure you keep the keys to your doors and windows in a place where everyone in the household knows and can find them

If you live in a flat…

  • Make sure you know what the fire evacuation strategy is for your building (this information will be on signs in your building).
  • If there is a fire, any items that have been left in communal corridors could block your escape. Buggies, prams, bikes, boxes or other items that are stored there could also create thick smoke which may leave you disoriented and struggling to find your way out

If you are worried about how you might escape in the event of a fire you can request a Safe and Well visit from the Fire & Recue Service. 

Herts Fire & Rescue Service - request a visit

Beds Fire & Rescue Service - request a visit

Please contact our Tenancy Support Officer, Alison Hilton, if you need any advice:

alison.hilton@fgch.co.uk

Bedtime fire safety checklist

Before you go to bed, make sure you do the following:

  • Close all internal doors, to help stop a fire from spreading
  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances that don't need to be left on, including:
  1. Your cooker
  2. Your washing machine
  3. Your heaters
  • Put up a fireguard (if you’ve used a fire)
  • Check that all candles and cigarettes have been put out properly (don't leave any embers burning)
  • Think about your escape route and check that exits are clear
  • Check that your door and window keys are in a place where everyone can find them

What to do if there is a fire

It is very unlikely, but if the worst happens

  • Don’t tackle fires yourself – leave it to the professionals
  • Keep calm and act quickly to get everyone out as soon as possible
  • If you live in a flat follow the safety instructions on the notices displayed around your building. Your building will have either a “stay put” strategy or an “evacuation” strategy depending on its design and/or any specific arrangement that may temporarily be put in place.
  • If you are in a communal area and discover a fire, you should leave the building immediately – do not return to your flat. If your building has an alarm point in the communal area, you should activate this as you leave to alert others in the building to the fire.
  • You should not use a lift in the event of a fire in case you become trapped. You should always use the emergency exit staircases and designated fire escape routes.
  • Don’t waste time investigating what has happened, rescuing valuables or filming the fire for social media
  • Hot air rises, so if there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer
  • Before you open a door, make sure you feel it, to check whether or not it’s warm. If it is warm, this means that there's fire on the other side, so don't open it
  • Call 999 as soon as you’re clear of the building (999 calls are free)

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