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Fire safety in apartment buildings听

 

Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers. As a responsible landlord we have an extensive ongoing programme in place to check our buildings and carry out any work required, to ensure that we comply with government regulations and guidance.

Following the Grenfell tragedy, the government commissioned an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. This led to the introduction of a new Building Safety Bill, which received Royal Assent to become an Act of Parliament in May 2022.

What is covered in this new Building Safety Act?

The Act particularly focuses on high-risk buildings where the spread of fire or structural defects could lead to the loss of life.听

High-risk buildings are defined by their height and use. This means that all buildings that are at least 18 metres in height or have at least seven storeys, with a minimum of two residential homes, are specifically covered under the new regulations. Care homes are also included.听

A key aspect of this new legislation is resident engagement which will be overseen by a new Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).听

What will it mean for me?

In practical terms, these new government regulations and guidelines have been developed to ensure your safety in the event of a fire in your building.听

The new Building Safety Regulator will oversee the safe design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings so that residents are safe and feel safe. It will be independent and give expert advice to residents and local regulators, landlords, building owners and the construction industry.听

Setting out a stronger role for residents, the Regulator aims to ensure that residents鈥 voices are properly heard and listened to. Residents will also be entitled to receive core information about their building鈥檚 safety, with the right to request more details.听

What are you doing to ensure the safety of customers living in high-rise buildings?

In line with our safety-first approach, we are appointing Building safety managers for each of our 500+ complex buildings. These managers will be responsible for ensuring the safety of the buildings they manage and its residents.

They will actively engage with residents, encouraging them to get involved and raise any safety concerns they may have, and keep them informed about building safety in an open and transparent way.听

By working together you can help us to keep you safe.听

About your fire doors

Fire doors are part of the passive fire safety arrangements that prevent fire and smoke spreading and ensure that the means of escape remain passable in the event of a fire.

Your apartment block has fire doors fitted. These are fitted as your apartment front door and in the lobby spaces leading to your flat. This includes doors fitted to cupboards with utility services inside.听听

  • Fire doors are not like normal doors. Fire doors are an important item of fire protection. The fire doors fitted to your apartment and around the building have a fire rating that means they are designed to resist the spread of fire for a minimum time, usually 30 minutes or more.听听
  • To operate properly it is essential that fire doors are fitted correctly and closed shut when you are not using them. This is why they are fitted with a self-closing device that ensures the door sits properly in its frame. You or your visitors must not prop open fire doors or stop the closing mechanism from working in any way.
  • If you open your door to an angle of around 15 degrees and release it, it should close fully in the frame. If this is not the case, you should contact us and arrange for an adjustment or repair.
  • Fire doors are also fitted with seals, either around the edges of the door itself or within the frame. Depending on the design of the door, these seals are designed to prevent smoke and heat from passing through and provide the best protection in the event of a fire. These strips are an important part of the design and must be in place for the fire door to work properly.
  • The door furniture fitted to your fire door has also been specially designed and tested to withstand fire and is not to be replaced with any other type of equipment. This includes hinges, locks, handles, spyholes and letterboxes.听听 Any glazed panels fitted are also specially designed and tested and should not be adjusted or replaced by residents. Any faulty or damaged equipment should be reported to us for repair or replacement.
  • To ensure the doors operate properly, we will inspect the doors regularly. In buildings of over 11 metres in height the law requires us to check apartment fire doors at least every 12 months and the fire doors in the lobby areas every three months. You can help us to keep you safe by allowing access for our inspections.

Here are some helpful tips about ensuring the fire doors help to protect you in the event of a fire.

  • Don鈥檛 prop open or wedge open any fire doors. They are designed to act as a barrier to fire, smoke, and heat.
  • Don鈥檛 remove the self-closing device fitted to your door if it is not working properly. You can book a repair where one of our operatives will attend to fix it or replace it.
  • Don鈥檛 remove any of the seals or strips that are fitted around the door or to the frame. Please do not paint over them or adjust them in any other way.听 If they are missing, damaged or your door is not closing properly, you can book a repair for one of our operatives to fix or replace them.
  • Don鈥檛 remove the letter box fittings. These contain brushes and seals that operate in a fire to seal the opening and stop smoke and flame passing through.
  • Do ask the fire door surveyor any questions that you may have about how the equipment is designed to operate. You can email any queries to us later at buildingmanagement@housingplusgroup.co.uk
  • Do call us on 0800 048 8955 if any part of your fire door is not working as described above.

Fire risk assessments

All buildings within Housing Plus Group that fall into scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 have regular fire risk assessments undertaken by a third-party contractor. Once complete, an action plan is devised and work is then prioritised to be completed depending on the risk rating given to that particular item.

If you would like to know more about the fire risk assessment for your building, please contact your Building safety manager on buildingmanagement@housingplusgroup.co.uk

Fire alarms

Your building will either be fitted with an alarm within the communal areas which is linked to your apartment, or your apartment will be fitted with standalone alarms. Some buildings may have both. This depends on the building type and use. Where standalone alarms are in place, it is recommended that these are tested weekly. Alarms within communal areas are tested weekly by us and serviced every six months by third-party contractors. If you are having any issues with your fire alarm, please call our customer service team on 0800 048 8955.

What happens next?

Although the Building Safety Bill is now an Act of Parliament, the final phase of the regime is expected to come into force within the next twelve to eighteen months, so please look out for further updates here and also in our customer e-bulletins and newsletters.听听

We will also be sharing who your building safety manager is on here very soon, so please regularly check back for updates.听

Report it!

If you have any concerns about fire safety in your apartment building, please report it to our customer services team on 0800 048 8955.

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