Fire safety in council housing

We are committed to fire safety and make sure we:

  • make any improvements necessary to existing stock
  • incorporate any lessons learned into our fire safety procedures

We have a statutory duty to carry out fire risk assessments (FRA) and undertake general precautions to minimise fire risk to residents. We carry out scheduled FRAs on all council-owned properties, with the frequency varying according to the assessed level of risk.

In the event of fire

Wherever you live you should always know how you could get out in the event of a fire. This means thinking about escape routes now.

If you live in a house and there is a fire in the property, you should leave immediately and call the fire brigade.

If you live in a flat or maisonette, there will be a ‘fire action notice’ in a prominent position in the communal areas of the property. You should familiarise yourself with the contents of this notice and follow the advice in the event of a fire.

If your home is in a purpose built block of flats or maisonettes, the fire action notice will probably advise you to stay put in your home in the event of a fire elsewhere in the building as long as it is safe to do so. This is because the building has been designed to contain individual fires within the home and provide sufficient time for the fire brigade to attend and deal with it.

However, you are the best judge of your own safety and in all cases if you see fire or smoke within your home you should:

  1. leave
  2. close the fire door behind you
  3. call the fire brigade

Smoke alarms

Most of our council flats are fitted with hardwired smoke alarms. We have a programme to extend the coverage of hardwired smoke alarms and provide battery-operated alarms to other homes during the programme.

If you’re a council leaseholder, the London Fire Brigade can fit battery-operated smoke alarms in your home for free as part of their home fire safety visit service. If you're subletting your home as a leaseholder, there is a legal requirement to instal smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Testing your alarm

You should test your alarm every week by pressing the small button marked ‘test’. If it is working correctly, the alarm will sound for ten to 20 seconds. Once a month, you should also run a vacuum nozzle (if you can reach safely) over the alarm to remove dust or cobwebs.

If you are unsure whether your flat has a smoke alarm, or you think the alarm is broken or it starts to ‘beep’ (this means the backup battery needs replacing), you should request a housing repair to install or fix the alarm.

Dry riser inlets and landing valves

In purpose-built blocks of flats these are in a small cupboard on each floor, usually marked ‘dry riser’. They are designed to allow the fire service to have an immediate supply of water to the floor involved in the fire.

You must not be tamper with these valves.

Please contact us on 020 8583 4000 if you notice any problems with them or if they have been vandalised.


The high degree of fire separation between flats and communal areas is achieved by making each flat a fire-resisting enclosure. This is known as compartmentation.

If you live in a tower block your building has been designed and built with fire safety in mind. The walls and doors between flats, stairs and corridors are specially designed to resist fire and stop the spread of smoke. This means they should not be modified unless by approved council contractors.

Keep communal areas clean and safe

On average twenty fires occur in communal areas of blocks of flats in London every month.

You can help prevent fires by keeping communal areas free of rubbish or personal items, such as bin bags, furniture and clothing. This is because items like these:

  • could be used to start a fire
  • may obstruct fire fighters entering, or residents leaving the building

If you use a mobility aid or mobility scooter, you must not store it in a communal area inside the block.

Families with young children must store prams/buggies/pushchairs and children's toys inside their home.

Inspecting communal areas

Our caretaking and tenancy teams make regular block inspections to check that communal areas are clean and safe.

They will contact any resident who is using a communal area for storage. If necessary, they will issue a notice requiring the removal of items.

Where items are not removed, we will remove them. We will dispose of them after 28 days if they are not claimed. Failure to comply with such a notice could also result in an order for costs.

Access to the building for the fire service

The area around the building is designed so that emergency vehicles can access the building. Please make sure that this access is not blocked in any way.

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