All fire safety legislation in England and Wales is gathered under the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 designed to simplify the existing legal requirements at the time. It states that employers must ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees’.
Fire risk assessments should be undertaken by a competent/responsible person defined as “someone with training and experience or knowledge and other qualities” and may be a resident management company, managing agent or freeholder.
Recording the findings under a risk assessment satisfies certain duties under the RRO as they invariably identify shortcomings in fire safety measures and recommend improvements. Issues which may be highlighted in fire risk assessments include:
- The adequacy of fire safety measures such as emergency lighting
- Installing fire resisting doors to flat entrances;
- Posting fire action and other notices and signs;
- Servicing door closers in corridors;
- Providing advisory leaflets and notices for occupants on storing mobility scooters, bicycles, recycling waste, furniture and furnishings which may obstruct escape routes.
One of the major problems caused by uncontrolled subletting on our block was that of individual landlords continually dumping large household items in the common areas. Some years before we took over, someone visiting the building had a row with one of the occupants and tossed something into the pile in the walkway that went up in flames. Whether it was by accident or design we never knew but we had no freeholder, no managing agent and no buildings insurance!
This what the fire damage looked like.
In 2009, fire risk assessments were no longer carried out on blocks of flats like ours but periodic visits from the fire brigade did lead to us being advised that as we were not a ‘closed’ block we did not require an external fire alarm system. The fire officer did make reference to the possibility of an early warning system that would interconnect all flats with each other so that if a fire started in one of the flats then the alarm would go off in all of them. Not too clever if someone simply keeps burning toast (his words not mine!)
Another suggestion was the possibility of having just one alarm installed in a single flat on each floor, so if a fire should break out in that particular flat then others in the block would be warned. He finished by saying that these are not legal requirements, simply something to bear in mind for future reference.
We were however required to ensure that an emergency action plan should be formulated and placed in strategic points throughout the building which we subsequently implemented.
These photo’s show the repaired fire damage.
Large items are still being placed in the same areas for which we used to use council services which were free but their requirements got somewhat complicated so we now use a contractor supplied by our managing agent to get the items removed which is much quicker and less complicated!