National Fire Safety Week (5th – 12th October) designed to highlight fire safety particularly in homes is a joint initiative between the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
The campaign’s theme “STOP Fire – Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives”’ highlights the importance of fire safety in the home and how to keep ourselves safe from the dangers of fire. The campaign encourages people to have smoke alarms and an escape plan in the event of a fire.
Under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 – Regulation 10 – each house should contain smoke alarms in the ground floor hallway and each upper floor landing of a stairway and a fire blanket securely wall-mounted in the kitchen. Apartments should contain a common fire detection and alarm system; manual fire alarm call point at each floor level; emergency lighting throughout; emergency evacuation plan permanently positioned inside the front door; suitably located smoke and heat alarms and a fire blanket securely wall-mounted in the kitchen.
A sample of over 2000 properties inspected by Inspex shows that 94.86 per cent of apartments in a multi-unit development (MUD) were in direct contravention of Section 10(3) – of the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 at the first inspection stage and just over 51.74 per cent remained in contravention of the same regulation at the second, follow-up inspection stage.
With the benefit of PRS inspection experience, Local Authorities interpret Regulation 10(3) to mean that an Emergency Evacuation Plan should be permanently located inside the front door to each apartment. The Evacuation Plan should have a floor plan showing exits and location of fire equipment, the exact address of the apartment, relevant contact phone numbers, and the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency. Although not the responsibility of the OMC, this information should be readily available from the OMC Common Area Evacuation Plans and Procedures.
As well as the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019, Landlords must be familiar with their obligations under Fire Services Act 1981 that places a duty of care on those in control of apartment buildings to take all reasonable measures to prevent occurrence of fires and ensure, as far as is practicable, occupant safety. Overall responsibility lies with the Building Owner or its Management Company, where one is employed, to carry out Fire Safety Management
Inspex supports National Fire Safety Week, raising awareness about the fact that most people who die in fires, die from smoke inhalation and not from burns and it can take as little as 3 minutes to die from smoke inhalation.