As a landlord, you are responsible for the fire safety of your tenants. As legislation is constantly changing, it is up to you to keep up with the latest laws and to comply with them. This guide will cover your basic duties as a landlord (or managing agent) when it comes to fire safety.
Which fire safety regulations apply to your property?
• For existing residential premises, the Housing Act 2004 applies. This act includes Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), licencing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and management regulations for HMOs.
• With regards to fire safety, the key piece of legislation is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), which orders landlords to carry out regular fire risk assessments in the common areas of HMOs, flats, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation. In single-household-occupied premises, only the HHSRS applies.
Carrying out fire risk assessments
A fire risk assessment involves taking a methodical look at the premises as well as the activities carried out in the building. The aim is to assess the probability of a fire breaking out and the harm this would cause to those in and around the premises. Little fire safety expertise is needed to carry out a fire risk assessment for a small residential property, but you may need to take advice if yours is a larger, more complex property.
If any risks are identified, the landlord or managing agent is responsible for reducing or eliminating these potential hazards. Fire risk assessments should be carefully documented and updated if the risks change or if any changes are made to the property. Fire risk assessments must be carried out for each property as even identical properties can present different risks.
Detecting a potential fire
It is vital that occupants are alerted immediately if a fire breaks out, and there should be a clear evacuation strategy in place. The most common systems used are Grade A: fire alarm systems with detectors and a central control panel, usually providing break glass units near exits and on each landing; and Grade D: mains-powered smoke or heat alarms with backup batteries.
It may be helpful to provide fire blankets and fire extinguishers, depending on the type of premises. In buildings containing flats, multi-purpose extinguishers are required on each floor in communal areas and should be maintained annually. Sprinklers should be used for larger and complex buildings. However, unless the fire is very small and easy to tackle, tenants should always be encouraged to evacuate the premises and call 999.
Fire doors and compartmentation
The aim of compartmentation is to stop or slow the spread of a fire and to enable safe evacuation to take place. Compartmentation can be achieved by specifying minimum wall and ceiling thicknesses and specifying fire doors. There is no requirement for formal compartmentation in single-household-occupancy or low-risk shared houses, provided the construction is sound. Larger properties will need to provide 30 minutes of fire protection, emergency lighting in communal areas, and fire safety signs.
Fire alarms and protection systems at BWS
BWS Security Systems helps landlords and other building owners meet their fire safety requirements; protecting their tenants, personnel and assets in the process. We can design, install, commission and maintain your fire alarm system, ensuring that it operates at maximum efficiency at all times. If you are need advice on fire alarms in Gloucester, Bath or Swindon, give us a call today on 01225 8752 385.