Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, it is understandable that tenants living in blocks of flats are concerned about fire safety within the building and whether their landlord is doing their best to protect them if a fire was to break out.
If you are a tenant living in a flat, your landlord has the responsibility to provide you with adequate fire safety information including an evacuation plan in the event of a fire. Your landlord also has the responsibility to keep the property safe and free from health hazards, following guidance to fulfill gas, electric and fire safety regulations.
Within your building it is essential that:
- All tenants within the building know the evacuation plan
- Objects do not block escape routes
- All front doors of flats, corridors and staircases are ‘self-closing’ fire doors
- Fire doors must self-close properly and not be kept open
So what should you do in the event of a fire?
If your route is clear, you are advised to shut windows and doors and get everyone out of the building, ensuring that no one uses the lift. Once outside, call 999 and tell the operator your address, flat number and the floor which the fire is on.
However, if the escape route is not clear it may be safer to remain in your flat until the fire brigade arrives. In this situation you are advised to find a safe room, close the door and block any gaps using soft materials to protect yourself from smoke inhalation. You should then go to a window, shout for help and call 999, be ready to tell the operator where you are in the building, where you think the fire is coming from and what is obstructing the escape route.
So why is it sometimes safer to stay inside?
Guidance from the fire brigade to stay inside is based upon the fire protection that is provided within the building, walls and doors of each flat that is designed to stop the spread of fire. Staying where you are (if it is smoke/fire free) can reduce the risk of unnecessary smoke inhalation by trying to escape through smoky corridors. This also means that firefighters will be able to quickly come up the stairways to tackle the fire, without residents blocking the stairways.
If you are concerned about any of these things regarding fire safety, contact your landlord or local council for more guidance.