In case you missed it

At our recent webinar on fire safety on 22 April, Paul Lloyd, Partner at Capsticks, and experienced Housing Consultant, Jan Taranczuk, took an in-depth look at where the responsibility for fire prevention lies within social housing organisations. They discussed the devastating Lakanal House Fire of 2009 which led to the London Fire Brigade’s campaign ‘Know the Plan’ to support tenant awareness of what to do in a fire, as well as the ongoing Grenfell Inquiry accounts and the National Fire Chiefs Council guidance on ‘Fire Safety in Specialised Housing’ which was published one month before the tragedy. We set out top tips and key takeaways from the webinar below.

Top 10 tips

Jan offered some practical tips to manage both the risk and event of a fire for housing providers to consider:

  1. Landlords should discuss fire safety at length, initially before the tenant moves in, and a few weeks after, so that residents are prepared and focused on maintaining good fire safety practices.
  2. Ongoing fire safety training for staff is vital and should translate into ongoing updates to tenants.
  3. Each and every person connected with the landlord should have a duty to check whether the door closers they come into contact with, work.  If they are not in working order it should be that person’s direct responsibility to report them immediately for repair.
  4. Every person who attends homes at the direction of the landlord should be clear on what to do in the event of a fire whilst they are attending.
  5. Undertaking a Person Centred Fire Risk Assessment for those residents who may have difficulty in escaping from a fire is the first step in understanding the risks and then mitigating them.
  6. Hoarding is a significant risk to the tenant and their neighbours. Sprinklers are unlikely to be fully effective and in any event may not be installed because of the hoarding present in the first place. Hoarding must be tackled head-on.
  7. Ongoing trends in consumer purchasing, such as the prevalence of candles, should be discussed with tenants on an ongoing basis in relation to their heightened link to house fires.
  8. As over half of domestic fires are caused by electricity, residents should be equipped with information to recognise electrical issues, such as burn marks around plugs, and supported in how to seek assistance. 
  9. Fires involving a car will be significantly more intense, and so car parking under or within homes should be reviewed. Electric cars are a particular fire safety risk and consideration should be given regarding the proximity of parking to homes, and the location of charging points.
  10. Fire Risk Assessors should be given all relevant information in relation to the buildings they inspect. Tenants should be encouraged to speak with them and be told when they are attending so they can engage effectively.

Key takeaways

The Social Sector (Building Safety) Engagement Best Practice Group Final Report brings together learning within the housing sector, supporting Chapter 4 of Dame Judith Hackitt’s report on giving residents a stronger voice in relation to building safety. The engagement of residents in building safety is confirmed as pivotal and gives recommendations as to the necessity of social landlords in knowing their residents and communities and understanding and acting in response to diverse needs.

Ongoing collaboration within the sector, with residents and key stakeholders, including the fire services, is vital to overcome the risk of any further house and apartment block fires being a threat to lives. The work of frontline staff in understanding communities and meeting the needs of residents during the Covid-19 pandemic is pertinent to the ongoing work to increase safety measures.

How can Capsticks help?

Our specialist housing team is working to ensure that we are right beside our clients every step of the way. Our experts are on hand to advise on all aspects of housing management, including leasehold and asset management, landlord and tenancy issues, as well as complex succession disputes, possession claims, ASB, county court injunctions, fire safety issues, income recovery, disrepair, and judicial reviews.

If you have any queries around what's discussed in this article, and the impact on your housing organisation, please speak to Paul Lloyd to find out more about how Capsticks can help. 

If you would like to receive a copy of the webinar, please do get in touch with our events team by emailing [email protected].