Fire safety advice and information - for private sector housing

I live in a block of flats. What fire safety measures should be in place?

The building's freeholder or their managing agent must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment. This Assessment will identify what measures are required to:

  • detect smoke or fire and warn residents and visitors
  • minimise the spread of smoke and fire through compartmentation, which is when structures are used within a building to control or slow the fire, ie fire doors, dividing the building into cells
  • create a protected fire escape route

As a result of a Fire Risk Assessment clear guidance as to what you should do in the event of a fire should be shared with all residents and displayed clearly in the common ways.

As a resident you should check:

  • if there are smoke detectors in the corridors
  • if there is emergency lighting in the corridors
  • if the fire safety instructions are clearly displayed
  • you know what you should do in the event of a fire

How can I make my flat safer?

You should have at least one working smoke detector. If you are renting your flat, your landlord is legally obliged to fit one. Make sure you test it at least once a week. We also recommend landlords install a suitably mounted fire blanket in the kitchen.

If your flat opens onto the protected fire escape route, your front door must be a self-closing fire door to help slow the spread of a fire and smoke. You should be able to open it from the inside without a key to ensure you can get out quickly in case of an emergency.

Make sure you know what to do in the event of a fire in your flat, and know your escape route out of the building.

I live in a room in a house with other people. Are the fire safety rules different for us?

If you share basic facilities (such as a kitchen, toilet or bathroom) and there are three or more of you in the house who are not living as a single household, then you are living in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

There is a greater risk of fire in HMOs and so the owner or landlord has additional legal responsibilities to ensure a fire is detected and that you are able to escape safely. As a tenant you should have clear guidance as to what to do in the case of a fire, and know how to contact your landlord.

If the HMO has five or more people living there as more than one household, it must be licensed by the Council. The licence conditions will include provisions for fire detection and escape.

See also: Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

I live in a house. What fire safety measures should I have in place?

Everyone in your household should know what to do and how to get out in the case of a fire.

You should have smoke detectors on each floor of your property:

  • If you are renting, the landlord must provide and fit these
  • Test them once a week to check they work

I am elderly and frail and I live on my own. What can I do about fire safety?

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) offer free home visits to provide advice on how you can make your home safer, and fit smoke alarms or other specialist dire detection equipment, where appropriate.

You may be eligible for a free Safe and Well Visit if you:

  • are aged 65 or over
  • are a lone adult/lone parent with young children
  • have a permanent disability
  • have permanent mobility difficulties
  • have a Careline/Lifeline
  • cannot hear a standard smoke alarm and live alone

For further information please see:

For more information about the Careline Community Alarm please see our:

I have concerns about fire safety in my rented accommodation. Who should I contact?

You should raise any concerns with your landlord. If they don't respond or you're not happy with their response please contact our Private Sector Housing Team. We can arrange an inspection of the property, and liaise with your landlord to make any necessary improvements.

What powers do the Councils have to make sure that rented accommodation is safe from fire?

If a landlord is not doing what they need to do to make a building safe, we have the power to serve notices to ensure any necessary works are carried out, as well as instruct that emergency remedial works are carried out if necessary. We can also prohibit the use of a dwelling or prosecute.

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Page last updated: 04 January 2022

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