Nobody expects a fire. When it does happen, it can frighten and overwhelm. According to the Home Office, there were 243 fire-related fatalities in England in the year ending March 2020, a 4% drop compared to 2018/19. What can landlords do to prevent the chances of a fire in their property and safeguard their assets and tenants?
What Are the Main Causes of Fires Within the Home?
Many home fires begin in the kitchen when overheated oils and grease spill over onto cookers, ovens, and fryers and ignite. Kitchen fires can also occur if people leave combustible items such as paper or plastic next to hot cooker surfaces.
- Heating Equipment
Clogged chimneys, unattended portable heaters, faulty furnaces, and fireplaces with firewood are all potential fire hazards. Keep all equipment at least three feet from other items in the home and carry out regular professional repair and maintenance for added fire safety.
Unattended candles are potential fire hazards due to their open flames. Keep candles clear of combustible items and never leave them unattended.
Always supervise children in the home and teach them fire safety as soon as they are old enough to understand.
- BBQs and Grilling
One of the major causes of fires in the home is barbecues and grilling. Maintain fire safety when grilling, and take extra caution when using propane grills. Store any gas cylinders in a secure environment and away from open flames.
Top Fire Prevention Tips
These top 10 fire prevention tips should help keep your property and tenants safe and prevent you from having to make an insurance claim:
- Fit a Smoke Alarm and Check It Regularly
Adhere to local fire codes to stay legally protected and ensure your tenants are safe.
Installing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and smoke detectors in bedrooms and entryways is always advisable.
Consider having a fire safety professional inspect your property to advise you on what you need for compliance.
- Explain House Rules (Maintain a Strict Smoking Policy)
Always set written house rules for tenants to adhere to, including enforcing a no-smoking ban. Explain these rules verbally to your tenants during orientation to ensure they have understood them.
- Establish BBQ/Grilling rules
Explain to your tenants the responsible practices for grilling on your property. Tenants should know how to check for gas leaks and always keep working grills at least 10 feet from the home.
- Conduct Regular Fire Safety Checks
Get a professional to conduct regular fire safety checks on alarm panels, as well as smoke and CO gas detectors, to avoid nasty surprises.
- Make a Fire Action Plan
Make a comprehensive fire escape plan with emergency numbers for your tenants. Post this plan on entryways where everyone can see them, especially if you have a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
- Encourage Tenants to Report Issues
Encourage your tenants to report all fire safety issues, even when the issue doesn’t directly concern them. Ensure that all tenants have your contacts and let them know they can call you if they suspect a potential fire hazard.
- Place Fire Extinguishers and Fire Blankets in Kitchens
Make sure that you have fire blankets and the appropriate fire extinguishers in the home. Also, consider placing one fire extinguisher on every floor if you own an HMO.
- Install Sprinklers
Installing a fire sprinkler system can help put out a fire more quickly in an emergency. Consider installing one on your property to enhance fire safety.
- Document Everything
As a landlord, protect yourself from not only loss of life and property but also potential lawsuits. By documenting all your fire prevention and safety efforts, you’ll have ample proof that you’ve met your obligations to keep your property and tenants safe.
- Always Make Repairs When Needed As Soon As You Can
Repair and clean all structural components, plumbing HVAC systems, and electrical systems as soon as you get news of a problem. That way, you’ll enhance fire safety on your property.
What Tenants Can Do to Prevent Fires
Tenants should also know about fire prevention and what to do in a fire. It is advisable to give tenants a written fire prevention and protection plan that includes home fire safety tips like:
- Not smoking in bed or leaving cigarettes and other flammable items like candles and space heaters unattended.
- Reporting potential fire and water safety problems promptly.
- Understanding fire safety protocols in the home, especially in the kitchen and laundry
- Using surge protectors and inspecting and replacing faulty electrical wiring, sockets, and appliances regularly to avoid electrical fires.
- Taking out contents’ insurance to cover the cost of replacing damaged items.
What Are the Fire Safety Regulations for Landlords?
Landlords have a responsibility to ensure home fire safety in their properties. Some things landlords can do to promote fire awareness include:
- Banning smoking.
- Conducting regular fire safety checks on fire alarm panels, as well as smoke and CO detectors.
- Fireproofing landscaping by keeping roofs and gutters clean, clearing leaf matter and other debris, and cutting the grass regularly.
- Enforcing local fire codes by, for example, installing the right types and amounts of smoke alarms.
- Giving tenants a comprehensive written fire safety and prevention guide.
- Posting a clear fire escape plan for tenants.
- Providing fire extinguishers and fire blankets.
- Repairing faulty structural components and appliances such as chimneys, fireplaces, electrical cables and outlets, plumbing, and HVAC systems promptly.
What Are the 4 Types of Fire?
Part of protecting your property and tenants from fire damage involves understanding the four main types of fires and how to deal with them if they occur:
Fires Involving Combustibles
These fires are the most common, caused by combustibles such as wood, paper, plastic, and clothing. They spread quickly as long as there’s enough oxygen, heat, and materials to sustain them.
To prevent this type of fire, tenants must keep their homes free of clutter and carry out regular site maintenance to keep fire hazards to a minimum.
Use only AAF Foam, Water, Wet Chemical, or Dry Powder extinguishers to put these fires out.
Fires Involving Vegetable Oils and Cooking Fats
These fires are incredibly common in homes as they involve fat, cooking oils, or grease igniting at high temperatures.
When deep-fat frying, do not overfill the cooking pan or leave fats and oils to cook for too long. Clean any spilled oils from surfaces immediately and change fryer oil regularly.
To prevent these fires, turn off the heat immediately to bring the oil temperature down and prevent ignition.
Only Wet Chemical extinguishers can safely put off these fires.
Fires Involving Electrical Systems and Appliances
Electrical fires occur due to faulty electrical wiring, frayed cables, short circuits, broken appliances, and overloading sockets.
If an electrical system or appliance is faulty, disconnect it from the electrical supply and get a professional to either repair or replace it as soon as possible. Also, keep all electrical systems and appliances away from water to avoid short-circuiting and potential fires.
Use only CO2 extinguishers to put out these fires.
Fires Involving Flammable Gases
Flammable gas fires are fires caused by hydrogen, propane, and butane. Many homes have a direct gas supply through the kitchen, so the likelihood of these fires occurring due to gas leaks is high in residential properties.
Ensure that the gas supply undergoes routine professional maintenance and call in gas repairmen to investigate suspected gas leaks promptly. If using LPG gas for cooking or grilling, store cylinders in a secure location away from open flames.
Only use Dry Powder extinguishers to put out these fires.
Employing these basic home safety tips decreases the likelihood of a fire, saving you thousands of pounds in unnecessary property claims and asset damage, emotional distress, and even physical harm and death.
These top general fire safety rules should keep tenants safe, and your property in mint condition, as long as you apply them correctly. You can also check out these handy fire safety tips for seniors and fire safety for children UK guide for more information.