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Making sure your home is fire safe

19 July 2016

When it comes to the homes we live in, fire safety isn’t always at the front of our minds. A fire in your home is something that many people never expect to happen to them, despite around 80% of the deaths caused by fire in the UK happening in homes.

Thankfully, there are many steps that you can take to make your home safer and reduce the risk that fire poses to you and your family. If a fire does happen, by making sure you’re on top of things like your smoke alarm, you can reduce the risk of a fire being fatal.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are often the first barrier of defence against fires. They give you an early warning so that you can get out of your home in time. In fact, you are twice as likely to die in a house fire in a home that has no smoke alarm than in a home that does. That is why it’s so important that you make sure your smoke alarm is working. You can test your smoke alarm in just a few easy steps:

  • Find the test button on your alarm
  • Press the button until the alarm sounds
  • Hold the button for a few more seconds, to make sure the alarm works

If the alarm doesn’t sound you will need to replace the batteries in your alarm, as it is your responsibility to do this.

How often should I check my alarm?

You should test your alarm every month – this will make sure that your batteries haven’t run out or that anything else has gone wrong with your alarm.

Along with testing your alarm every month, you should also vacuum your alarm every 6 months – this makes sure that dust doesn’t accumulate in your alarm, as dust in the alarm can mean that it doesn’t pick up smoke.

Even if your alarm does work when you test it, you should still replace your batteries every 12 months at the latest.

What if my smoke alarm is mains powered?

If your smoke alarm is mains powered, you should still test it in exactly the same way. But you will not need to change the battery. You can tell if you have a mains powered fire alarm, because it will have a green LED and a red light that flashes every 20 seconds. These alarms contain a special rechargeable battery that we will replace every 10 years.

If you test your mains powered alarm and it doesn’t work, you should contact us so that we can fix it.

Do you know about our ‘Safe to Stay’ policy?

Following a specialist, independent fire risk survey and in line with advice we have had from the Fire and Rescue service, we have a ‘safe to stay’ procedure in the event of a fire. If you live in one of our schemes or blocks, you should follow the following procedure:

If a fire breaks out inside your home:

  • You should always leave your home immediately
  • Close all the doors behind you
  • Call the Fire and Rescue Service on 999 once you are safely outside

If a fire breaks out in the communal area or other part of your building:

  • You should be safe to stay in your home, however:
  • Make sure your doors are shut
  • Call the Fire and Rescue Service on 999
  • Evacuate if you are told to do so by the Fire Service, if you feel unsafe or if your home is affected by heat or smoke

Reporting issues with fire doors

Fire doors have two important functions in a fire; when closed they form a barrier to stop the spread of fire and when opened they provide a means of escape.

A well designed fire door will delay the spread of fire and smoke without causing too much hindrance to the movement of people and goods. However, just as with a normal door, fire doors can become jammed or broken.

That is why it is important that you report any issues with fire doors in your building to us immediately. We can then arrange to inspect the door fully, and make sure it goes back to working as it should as quickly as possible.

One of the ways that fire doors delay the spread of fire is by automatically closing behind you. All our fire doors have mechanisms that means they should automatically close after a certain time. Please check frequently that your fire door closes fully by itself. If it does, then it means the self closing device is working properly. If it doesn’t then please let us know so that we can carry out the necessary adjustments to get it working again.

I’m having an issue with my smoke alarm or fire door – how do I report it?

If you need to report any issues with a smoke alarm in your home, a fire door not working, or any other issue in your home, there are a range of ways you can get in touch with us.

You can find out more on our contact page.

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Red Kite Community Housing, Windsor Court, Kingsmead Business Park, High Wycombe, HP11 1JU

Red Kite Community Housing is the trading name of Red Kite Community Housing Limited, a charitable registered society which operates for the benefit of the community under the Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered in England with the Financial Conduct Authority (registration number 31322R) and the Regulator of Social Housing (registration number 4682). VAT number 290 7410 06.