Should I stay or leave in the event of a fire?

Evacuation procedures vary depending on the building. The recommended approach for your building will be set out in a fire safety notice in the communal areas. In many purpose built blocks of flats (not houses that have been converted into flats), a “stay put” approach is usually recommended. The materials your building is made out of are designed to contain a fire inside one flat. This means that if there is a fire in another flat in your block, you do not need to leave immediately and will be safer in your home. However, if you are in a communal area or your home is affected by the heat or smoke, leave the building immediately unless you are told otherwise by the fire crew. You should only stay in your home if you feel it is safe to do so. In most converted houses, you should leave immediately if a fire breaks out in another part of the building.

How are you making my building safe?

To ensure your safety in your home, fire risk assessments are carried out in all blocks with a communal area, such as a stairwell or corridor. We review supported housing schemes and blocks over six storeys high once a year. All our fire risk assessments are currently up to date. However, in light of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, we are now carrying out extra safety reviews of all blocks over six storeys to make double-sure our residents are safe.

My building has cladding. Could a fire spread in the same way at my property?

As part of our fire safety reviews, we are taking the extra precaution of surveying the cladding on our high-rise blocks. If we find any materials that could pose a fire risk, we will remove and replace them as soon as possible. If they pose an immediate risk to our residents, we will move the residents to suitable alternative accommodation until we can resolve the problem.

Do we need communal fire alarms?

No. Building regulations and other guidance recommends that communal fire alarms are not necessary in purpose built blocks of flats as in the event of a fire, only residents in the affected property need to evacuate. The walls and ceilings between flats are sufficient to contain a fire, meaning you don’t need to be notified immediately of a fire elsewhere in the building. However, if fire or smoke affects your home, or if you’re instructed by the fire service to leave, you should do so at once.

Why does my home not have smoke alarms?

In some homes, it is our residents’ responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms. However, we want you to be as safe as possible. So we will be fitting heat and smoke detectors in all our homes where they are not already provided, free of charge. If you are concerned about fire safety in your home, contact your local fire service who will arrange to visit you and carry out a Home Fire Safety Visit.

Why does my home not have sprinklers?

New blocks of flats have to have sprinkler systems if the building is 30 metres high or more. This is roughly equal to ten storeys or higher. As an extra safety measure for our residents, we will be surveying our older blocks of this height to work out if fit sprinkler systems can be installed. There may be practical reasons why they cannot be installed, although in these situations we will review the fire safety strategy specifically for that building and communicate it to residents.

Who should I contact if I discover or suspect a fire?

If you discover or suspect a fire in your home or building please alert the Fire Brigade by calling 999 as soon as safely possible.

How can I help prevent a fire in my building?

There are lots of things that you can do to keep your home and your building safe from fire:

  • Keep communal areas clear. Items blocking communal areas can help a fire to spread and also block your escape routes. This includes not leaving buggies, bicycles, thick or curled doormats, laundry, shoes or any other items in communal areas, entranceways or corridors
  • Keep your balcony clear at all times. Fires often spread on the outside of the building and flammable items left on the balcony increase this risk
  • Don’t use barbecues or leave flammable items such as gas bottles on your balcony
  • Don’t leave any open flames such as candles unattended
  • If you smoke in your home, make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished. It’s safer to smoke outside
  • If you use heaters, make sure they’re never covered or near any other items
  • Make sure any electrical appliances and devices are in good condition
  • Make sure the fire doors in both your home and communal areas are kept closed at all times – this is crucial in preventing the spread of fire
  • Do not tamper with the electrical or gas supply to your home
  • Do not block any vents in your home
  • Keep a small fire extinguisher and fire blanket in your home
  • Allow us access to your property to carry out your yearly gas equipment inspection
  • Make sure your family know what to do in the event of fire.

If you have any concerns and would like to speak to someone at L&Q, please call us on 0300 456 9996 or email us.