162 building fires in Britain every day!
23rd March 2016
Fires are a major problem for landlords and home owners, with an average of 162 building fires in Britain every day and annual fire-related property insurance claims touching £1bn.
Between 2011-2014 malfunctioning household appliances including washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers caused almost 12,000 fires in Britain.
In 2014-15, according to a Government report there were 163 fatalities in accidental dwelling fires in England accounting for 63% of all fatalities from fire that year.
Property owners, landlords and agents have a duty of care to provide adequate levels of fire safety for their residents and surrounding neighbours and buildings.
But a 2014 study by the Fire Door Inspection Scheme showed that almost half of those responsible for maintaining fire safety in multi-occupancy buildings are simply unaware of their legal obligations.
Legislation hitting landlords
NHS figures show that carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 40 deaths a year, and deaths from a fire in the home are at least four times more likely if there is no working smoke alarm.
Under new rules for England, which came into effect in October 2015, it is the duty of landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties – or face sanctions or fines of up to £5,000.
Landlords are now required to install smoke alarms on every floor of their properties, and test them at the start of every tenancy.
It is not the landlord’s responsibility to continue to check alarms are working – instead the tenants themselves should make regular checks.
Landlords must also install carbon monoxide alarms in high-risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
The changes bring private rented properties in line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.
Tips for managing fire risks
1. Fire risk assessments are essential to help landlords and property agents identify what they need to do to prevent fires and keep people safe.
2. A thorough assessment should: identify fire hazards and people at risk; evaluate, remove or reduce these risks; and record the findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training. The fire risk assessment, which must be carried out by a competent person, should be reviewed and updated regularly.
3. Fire separation and internal fire compartmentation are key to limiting fire spread and maintaining a fire safe environment. Similarly, fire doors within communal areas are considered a critical element within multi-storey and high-rise blocks for limiting fire spread throughout a building. Negligent landlords can receive large fines or even prison sentences if there is a fire door failure or breach of fire compartmentation.
4. When it comes to prevention, it is essential that all building services, including both electrical and gas installations, are correctly installed and maintained. Similarly, all gas and electrical appliances and equipment must be properly installed, maintained and inspected, if the dangers of fire are to be avoided or minimised.
5. In order to ensure a fire safe environment when maintenance works are taking place, robust policies and procedures are essential in relation to managing contractors and hot works. Additionally, the threat of arson should be considered, particularly in areas of high anti-social behaviour.
6. More general precautions – such as the inclusion and regular maintenance of fire extinguishers, fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and safe storage of flammable liquids and waste control – should also be adhered to.
To obtain an insurance quotation please contact Horner Blakey Insurance Brokers on 020 7929 0108.