Fire safety is everyone's responsibility and we all need to do our bit to keep each other safe. The Swan Group including Hera, has a Primary Authority Partnership with London Fire Brigade (LFB) so we have a consistent approach to our Fire Safety advice across all of our estates in Essex and London. Many of our Hera residents live in a block of flats, so it is especially important to understand fire safety procedures.
How you can prevent fires
There are things you can do to prevent fires and keep your home, neighbours' homes and your community safe.
Your homes should be fitted with hard wired smoke and heat alarms.
Home owners who sublet their home must make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed, as this is a legal requirement.
You should test your alarm weekly by pressing the small button marked 'test'. If working correctly, the alarm will sound for 10 to 20 seconds then stop. Once a month it is also advisable to run a vacuum nozzle over the alarm (if you can reach it safely), to remove dust or cobwebs.
If you think your fire alarm is broken or it starts to 'beep' (this means the backup battery needs replacing), you should contact us.
Keep communal areas clean and safe
Communal areas must be kept clear of personal items and rubbish at all times. This is important to ensure everyone can get out quickly and safely if there is a fire or other emergency. This will also help emergency services work safely within the building.
Flat entrance fire doors
Most flats are fitted with fire doors or fire door sets.
Fire doors are a life safety feature, as they prevent a fire spreading through a building. If a flat door fails to work correctly, it will let smoke and flames move around the building and could prevent residents from escaping.
It is therefore important residents don't:
- remove or tamper with the closing device
- change their flat door without our consent
- damage their flat door, which includes:
- damaging the frame by forcing it open
- changing the lock, letterbox or hinges
- installing additional items to the door, such as extra locks, a viewer or door chain
- installing an external security gate.
If your door is damaged, does not close on its own (i.e. is self-closing), or you have concerns over its condition, you should contact us.
It is unlikely that your flat has a fire door if:
- you access your flat directly from the street.
- it is on the ground floor and you don't walk through an enclosed building entrance area
- you live in a purpose-built block of flats and access your home from an open balcony walkway, and on leaving your home you could turn left or right to reach a staircase or exit door.
Homeowners should check their lease to confirm if their flat entrance door is demised to them. Where it is demised, homeowners are legally required to ensure their door meets the required fire and security performance standards, as detailed in the Building Regulations and for ensuring the door is in a good condition and well maintained.
We will be formally inspecting all flat entrance doors in building of four storeys or more from April 2022 (irrespective of ownership) and we will contact homeowners where we believe that the flat entrance door does not meet the required standard, or is in a poor condition.
Customers living in blocks of flats are not permitted to use BBQs inside their homes, including on balconies or roof terraces. The storage and use of contained gases (i.e. Calor gas) is also prohibited in Swan properties. If your flat has a private garden, you may use a wood or charcoal fueled BBQ.
For BBQ safety tips, visit London Fire Brigade.
Smoking is a major cause of fire.
Smoking is not allowed in communal areas of buildings.
If you're a smoker and would like support to stop smoking, you can find help by visiting NHS quit smoking.
Bonfires and fireworks
Customers are not allowed to hold bonfire and firework displays on Swan estates. For everyone's safety we recommend you attend an organised event. However, if your flat has its own garden where you're planning to set off fireworks, you should visit London Fire Brigade for safety tips.
Cooking is one of the major causes of fires in the home.
For safety tips visit London Fire Brigade.
Electrical heaters can be a great way to warm up a room quickly but they can cause fires if used incorrectly. For advice on how to keep warm and stay safe, visit London Fire Brigade.
If you use an electric blanket, we recommend you visit London Fire Brigade for advice on how to reduce the risk of fire.
Customers are not allowed to install open fires in their homes.
If you're finding it difficult to heat your home due to financial problems, you can contact Citizens Advice for information about grants and benefits available to help you pay your energy bills, or you can contact your energy company for advice.
If you would struggle in a power cut, talk to UK Power Networks about the Priority Services Register. This is a private list of customers who need extra help due mobility issues, vision or hearing impairments, or because they are older or unwell. You can find out more and sign up by visiting UK Power Networks. If there is a power cut, call freephone 105 for help and advice (available 24 hours a day).
Customers are not allowed to use candles, tea lights or incense burners in communal areas. If you use these items inside your home, visit London Fire Brigade for safety advice.
When celebrating a birthday or religious festival, it's important you follow these safety tips:
- Check your fairy lights carry the British Safety Standard sign.
- Paper decorations can burn easily, so don't attach them to lights or heaters.
- Never place candles, tea lights or incense burners near fabrics or decoration that can catch light easily.
- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of children's reach.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Never overload electrical sockets.
- Always switch fairly lights off and unplug them before you go to bed.
- Most fires start in the kitchen, so avoid leaving cooking unattended.
- Avoid cooking if you have been drinking alcohol.
- Make sure your family and visitors know how to escape in an emergency.
- Make sure cigarettes are put out properly.
We request that customers don't build temporary structures (e.g. Sukkahs) on their balconies or in communal areas. Please limit festive decorations to within your homes.
Most major house fires occur at night when people are asleep, so you should carry out some fire safety checks before you go to bed.
Make sure you follow our guidance for testing your smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm could save your life.
For more information on home fire safety, visit the London Fire Brigade's home safety pages or view the London Fire Brigade's fire safety in the home leaflet.
Fire escape planning
It is important that you know and understand what to do in an emergency.
Know your plan
All new customers living in blocks of flats are given a copy of the fire evacuation strategy for their new home at the start of their tenancy or when they purchase their home.
This is sometimes called a 'Fire Action Plan'. This plan tells you what to do if there is a fire in your home or other part of the building. It is important you read it carefully and understand it. If you have queries or concerns, you can contact us at: [email protected]
If you, someone you live with or a neighbour might find it difficult to escape in an emergency, you should ask your Neighbourhood Officer for a Person Centred Risk Assessment (PCRA) to be completed. See more information on person centric risk assessment below.
Fire action notices can be found on the ground floor and adjacent to lifts (where provided) in all blocks and provide information on what to do in the event of a fire in the building.
Living in a block of flats
In accordance with national guidance, all our purpose-built blocks of flats operate a defend in place, commonly referred to as 'stay put, if safe' policy. If we need to change this policy, we will let customers know in writing and provide a copy of the new guidance for their home.
For more information, visit London Fire Brigade and watch their stay put advice video.
Living in a house converted to flats
Flat conversions or converted street properties have a different fire evacuation strategy or plan to purpose-built blocks of flats. This is because the structure of the building is unable to prevent fire spreading between flats, as designed to do in a block of flats.
The fire action plan for all converted properties is 'full evacuation'. This means if there is a fire in your home or another part of the building, everyone must leave immediately. Living in sheltered or supported accommodation for older persons
As with purpose-built blocks of flats, older persons accommodation or specialised housing accommodation is designed and constructed to prevent fires from spreading internally.
The evacuation plan for our specialised housing blocks is 'stay put, if safe', unless residents have been informed otherwise.
Person Centred Risk Assessments - supporting residents to live safely in their homes
If you or someone in your household might find it difficult to leave your home in an emergency, or you're concerned about a vulnerable neighbour, you should complete contact your Neighbourhood Officer, or email us at [email protected]
One of our officers will then arrange to visit you at home to talk about your concerns.
With your consent we may arrange for a follow up visit with one of our Fire Risk Advisors or officers from the London Fire Brigade. This is to talk about what steps need to be taken to keep you safe.