Fire Safety Answers for Council Tenants and Private Residents from Adur & Worthing Councils
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy Adur & Worthing Councils has published this question and answer guide over fire safety.
The first section deals with council tenants of Adur Homes; the second is for private tenants and householders; finally a section of questions the Councils have received under Freedom of Information enquiries. We hope this helps
Do any Adur Homes blocks of flats have external cladding?
No buildings within Adur Homes stock have been fitted with external cladding.
Have Adur Homes assessed the risk from fire in their buildings?
Adur Homes employed external consultants to carry out fire risk assessments in 2015. We are currently reviewing these assessments and a programme of work is being undertaken to improve the fire safety standards where necessary.
What should I do if there is a fire in my building?
The Fire Risk Assessments have identified what action you should take if the fire alarm sounds in your building based on its size, layout construction and fire safety provisions.
The 'Fire Action' notice displayed in your building will provide instruction on the action to take in the event of a fire. Make sure you have read this notice and know what you should do.
- If there is not an alarm in the common areas (staircase, corridor, etc)
- If a fire breaks out in your flat, you must alert others in the flat, make your way out of the building and summon the fire and rescue service by calling 999.
- If a fire starts in the common areas, you should make your way out of the building and summon the fire and rescue service.
- If you are not directly affected by the fire it is suggested that you 'stay put' and remain in your flat unless affected by heat or smoke or directed to leave by the fire and rescue service.
- If there is an alarm in the common areas (staircase, corridor, etc)
- If the fire alarm sounds then you must immediately evacuate the building. Purpose-built blocks of flats are not normally provided with such systems.
What about fire extinguishers or hose reels?
Fire extinguishers may be provided in Sheltered accommodation and other areas which pose a specific risk but they are only for there for staff or other people trained in their use.
It is not usual practice to provide fire extinguishers or hose reels in the common parts of blocks of flats. Tenants should not endanger themselves by trying to fight a fire, but should follow the instructions on the Fire Action notice.
How can I make my flat safer?
In any flat, early warning of fire should be provided by means of smoke alarms.
Your flat must, as a minimum, have a standalone working ceiling-mounted smoke detector in the lobby or hallway of the flat.
If your flat has more than one level or more than one hallway or circulation space, then smoke alarms should be fitted in these areas too.
You must check that these alarms are working at least once a week.
You could also consider buying a fire blanket and fitting it in your kitchen. Make sure that it is suitably located so that you can use it without danger in the case of a small pan fire or similar.
Are the fire safety provisions being maintained?
There is a programme of scheduled maintenance of all fire safety measures being carried out by internal and external contractors.
Do the exit routes and staircases need to kept completely clear?
The Council has a 'zero tolerance' approach is one in which residents are not permitted to use the common parts to store or dispose of their belongings or rubbish. No exceptions apply. This ensures that the common parts are effectively 'sterile', ie free of combustible material so that a fire should not occur but also so that the escape routes can be safely used by people escaping in an emergency.
I live in a block of flats. What fire safety measures should there be in the common parts?
The 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 (detection)
- minimise the spread of smoke and fire (compartmentation) - Compartmentation is basically the division of a building into cells, using construction materials that will prevent the passage of fire from one cell to another for a given period of time
- create a protected fire escape route (detection, compartmentation and lighting)
The Assessment should also allow the freeholder or managing agent to decide what action should be taken by residents in the event of a fire (evacuate or stay put) and these actions should be brought to the attention of the residents and displayed prominently in the common areas.
- Are there smoke detectors in the corridors?
- Is there emergency lighting in the corridors?
- Are the fire safety instructions displayed?
- Do you know what to do in the case of fire
What about fire safety measures within my flat?
Everything within the flat (including the front door to the flat) is the responsibility of the owner of the flat.
If your flat opens onto the protected fire escape route, then your front door must provide 30-minutes fire resistance fitted with intumescent strips (which expand when hot to stop fire spread) and cold-smoke seals (that stop smoke spread). This is sometimes called an FD30S door. It must be fitted with an overhead self-closer.
The door should be lockable but openable from the inside without the need for a key to allow quick escape in the case of an emergency.
The flat must, as a minimum, have a standalone working ceiling-mounted smoke detector in the lobby or hallway of the flat. There may also be a detector provided by the owner of the building that is interlinked to the building fire detection system.
If you are renting, then the landlord is legally obliged to fit a working standalone smoke detector in the flat.
We recommend that landlords provide a suitably mounted fire blanket in the kitchen.
- Is there a smoke alarm? Is it working? You should check them at least once a week.
- Is my front door a fire door?
- Do I know what to do if there is a fire in my flat?
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 make sure that fires are detected and that you can escape safely if a fire occurs.
Depending on the layout and use of the house, extra measures may include fitting self-closing FD30S fire doors to the bedrooms and kitchens, fire protecting the understairs cupboards, fitting additional smoke and fire detection, etc.
The tenant must be told what to do the case of a fire and know how to contact the landlord in the case of an emergency.
If the HMO has three or more storeys and 5 or more persons not living as a single household, then the HMO must be licensed by the Council and the license conditions will include provisions for fire detection and escape.
I just live in a house. What fire safety measures should I have in place?
Everyone should have a personal evacuation plan, whether you rent or own, so that you know what to do and where to go in the case of a fire.
You should have smoke detectors fitted in the house, one in the hallway or landing at each floor. If you are renting, the landlord must provide and fit these.
We recommend that 10-year sealed battery smoke detectors should be installed at the very least.
I am elderly and quite frail and live on my own. What can I do about fire safety?
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) offer a free fire safety visit to your home to check to offer advice on how to make it safer and, where appropriate, fit smoke alarms or other specialist fire detection equipment free of charge. You may be eligible 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.
Details can be found on the West Sussex Fire and Rescue service website - home safety visits.
If you wish to have a Careline installed in your property, you can also contact the Community Alarm and Telecare Service (CATS) at Adur & Worthing Councils. For a small charge this will allow you to summon help at the touch of a button and you can also connect a smoke alarm so that Careline will be notified in the case of a fire and summon help. Details can be found on our community alarm webpage.
I have concerns about fire safety in my rented accommodation. Who should I contact?
In the first instance, write to your landlord about your concerns and see how they respond.
If they don't respond or address your concerns, or you are not comfortable approaching them about the matter then contact the:
- Private Sector Housing team at Adur & Worthing Councils
on 01273 263259
They will arrange an inspection of the property and then liaise with the landlord to carry out any necessary works.
What powers do the Councils have to make sure that rented accommodation is safe from fire?
The vast majority of landlords are responsible and provide much needed and safe accommodation. In those cases where a landlord will not cooperate, then the Council has the power to serve notices requiring the work to be carried out, can prohibit the use of a dwelling or even carry out emergency remedial works. In extreme case, it can prosecute for dangerous conditions.
If there is a need for evacuation of a large tower block, who can help?
Every Council has to have its own emergency planning arrangements in place. Please see on Adur & Worthing Council's arrangements for preparing for emergencies.
What are building regulations and who checks that building works are in compliance with them?
Information on building regulations and building control can be found in our Building Control section.
1.) How many high-rise blocks of flats designated for social housing (council flats) are owned by your council? By 'high-rise flats' I refer to the definition of a high-rise as a multi-story structure above 35 meters tall, or a building of unknown height from 12 floors and upwards.
2.) In the last financial year (2016-17), how many of these buildings were found to have a Category 1 hazard? This refers to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
2b.) How many of these hazards were fire-related? Please list the buildings by address.
3.) How many of these buildings were found to have any other form of potential fire risk/hazard not listed above? For instance, during a standard risk assessment. Please list the buildings by address, and list the hazards.
4.) How many of these buildings have one or zero designated fire exits? Please list the buildings.
All questions refer to the most recent financial year (2016-17).
Ref : FOI/619655/2017
Q1: Please supply a list naming all the social housing (ie either owned or managed by the council, or accommodation in which council tenants are housed) in your area which is tall (over 18 metres tall or more than four storeys tall).
Sea House, Whiterock Place, Southwick, West Sussex
Grange Court, Butts Road, Southwick, West Sussex
Q2: Of the buildings identified in Q1, please name ones that have been fitted with cladding containing 'Reynobond PE'.
Q3: Of the buildings identified in Q1, please name ones that have been fitted with cladding containing plastic of any sort.
1. When was the last time a fire risk assessment was carried out on housing where council tenants reside where the building has more than six floors?
1(a). Please can you provide further details as to how many buildings are under your authority and the details of each report.
There are two buildings owned by Adur Homes that match this description. Fire Risk Assessments include information about security and so the details of the report cannot be placed in the public domain for the reason of preventing crime.
2. Of those assessments in question 1, please can you provide how many were considered high risk (high risk defined as a serious risk to life from fire, substantial quantities of combustible materials, highly flammable substances, or likelihood of the rapid spread of fire, heat or smoke)?
Neither block of houses were considered high-risk during 2015 and improvements have been carried out since this time.
Contact Private Sector Housing
Private Sector Housing,
Adur & Worthing Councils,
44 Richmond Road,