‘Take your fire safety responsibility seriously during pandemic’, landlords are warned

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Landlords are being urged to remember that, during Covid-19 restrictions, their responsibilities to ensure tenants are fire safe are still as important as ever.

This message from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is being supported by one Northampton landlord who took positive action to seek professional fire safety advice and make changes to his property…just weeks before a fire happened in one of the rooms.

The landlord, Ron, who did not want us to release his surname, was renewing his HMO (house of multiple occupation) licence but decided to go the extra mile and seek fire safety advice from the NFRS Protection Department.

Protection officer Gary Short advised him that one of the property’s fire doors was not lined up properly and also recommended the installation of a locator switch, a device fitted near the front door which, when the smoke alarms activate, would shut off all but one of the smoke alarms, keeping the one closest to the fire sounding.

Earlier this year the landlord made the changes at his three storey house in Semilong, Northampton, notified NFRS of this and, a week later, the Fire Service was called to a fire in one of the rooms at the property.

The fire triggered the alarm quickly and the Fire Service was called to the scene. On arrival, they discovered that the newly fitted fire door had stopped the flames and smoke spreading to other areas of the house so only minimal damage was caused.

Ron said: “It is a landlord’s greatest asset to go the extra mile to make sure of fire safety as this is nothing in comparison to what can happen if a fire destroys your property.”

“Insurance companies will also look at the prevention measures the landlord has taken and if they haven’t taken those precautions they might not get back the value of the building, should it be destroyed.

“What landlords can do is seek advice from the Fire Service and I think that is important as, if anything, during this period of Coronavirus, there is going to be an increase in fire risk with more people at home. I hope this will make other landlords take note.”

Protection Manager Scott Richards said: “We recognise that, living with the necessary restrictions during a pandemic, life is more challenging for many of us, but our main message is that it is as important as ever for people to remember fire safety. Landlords cannot and should not lose sight of their duties to ensure fire safety measures are present in their properties.

“Something as simple as a fire door that doesn’t get fixed could have massive implications in the event of a fire, allowing fire and smoke to spread, potentially causing more damage and, critically, compromising escape routes and putting lives in danger. We would urge property owners to please continue to take these responsibilities seriously.”

For more information about managing properties during the Covid-19 pandemic, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

To contact the Fire Protection department, email: fireprotection@northantsfire.gov.uk

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