High-rise and communal living safety
Living in a high rise block or communal building, such as sheltered accommodation, doesn’t mean you are any more at risk from fire, but it does mean you need to consider your fire safety and the impact a fire in your home could have on other residents.
It’s important to understand what to do in the event of a fire, whether it’s in your flat or somewhere else in the building.
We have improved safety standards across all our blocks and buildings, which includes state-of-the-art fire alarm systems that link directly to the fire service, as well as sprinklers for some blocks.
We also have a specialist Building Safety Team, a High Rise Team and Property Safety Officers who will be familiar faces around your building. They also carry out annual Home Safety Checks in your home.
All our tower blocks and communal buildings have fire doors, this includes the front door to your home, and they are designed to help stop the spread of fire.
It’s really important that you don’t prop fire doors open, or make any alterations to them that could affect the protection they offer in the event of a fire. This includes things like drilling or knocking nails into your door to attach any signs or decoration.
All our fire doors are self-closing, so in the event of a fire they will automatically close behind you and help stop the fire from spreading. Please don’t remove or tamper with the self-closing devices on your door.
It’s a legal requirement that all flat entrance doors are inspected every year. Our Property Safety Officers carry out these inspections as part of their home safety checks, however residents can also complete their own door checks.
If you do complete your own door check, we will ask you to complete a short survey about your front door – these checks will take no longer than 10 minutes and require no technical knowledge or tools.
We’ll let you know when your annual door safety inspection is due.
Our Property Safety Officers carry out safety checks with individual customers who live in our high rise buildings. This is to make sure all the possible safety precautions are in place in your home and that they work for you.
The visit only takes around half an hour and allows us to check all the safety aspects of your home such as your smoke alarms, electrical sockets, windows and doors. We’ll also talk to you about the evacuation procedure for your building and any safety information specific to your home and building.
We operate a ‘Stay Safe’ strategy in our high rise buildings, which has been developed in agreement with the fire service.
Unless you see smoke or fire, or hear the communal alarm sounding, or you are told by the fire service to leave the building,
then you are safer in your home.
The fire alarm system will only sound in the parts of the building that need to be evacuated.
If the whole building has to be evacuated, the communal alarm will sound. Of course, you are free to leave at any time if you are worried.
Once you have left the building, you may not be able to go back into your home until the fire service say it is safe to do so.
If you live in a high rise block or sheltered accommodation, and you hear a fire alarm – you must evacuate the building.
1. When the fire alarm activates, it will send an urgent alert directly to the fire service, who will immediately send fire crews to the building.
2. If you hear the alarm, or you see smoke or flames, alert everyone in your flat and leave together.
– Leave your flat
– Use the stairs
– Never use the lifts
3. Go to the assembly point. You’ll find details about where your assembly point is in the lobby area, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with this.
4. If you are unable to leave your flat, use the stairs or your exit route is blocked or unsafe due to fire or smoke, return to your flat, close the door and put a wet towel or bedding at the base of the door to help prevent the smoke spreading. Go to a room with an open window and call 999.
If you live in a low-rise building, there is no communal fire alarm, so if you hear your smoke alarm or you see fire or smoke, you must evacuate the building.
The evacuation strategy for our high rise buildings is ‘Stay Safe’
You may also hear this called a ‘Stay Put’ policy. This means that if there is a fire in your flat you should leave the flat and the building. If there is a fire somewhere else in the building, you can remain in your flat and do not need to leave the building.
This is because the fire safety measures at your building are designed to ensure the fire does not spread from a different part of the building.
When firefighters tackle a fire anywhere in the building, it is likely that some smoke will spread into the corridors and sometimes into the staircase – if you choose to leave the building you may expose yourself to smoke in these areas before it is cleared.
If at any stage your flat is affected by heat or smoke, or you feel unsafe, then you should get out if you can and call 999 and ask for ‘fire’.
And remember, you should always evacuate if asked to do so by firefighters.
Live in a high-rise building?
During an emergency, such as a fire, the lifts will not be working, which means you must leave the building using the stairs.
If you have any mobility issues, medical conditions or disabilities that may prevent you evacuating your home without assistance, it’s important that you tell us, so we can put the right support in place for you.Fill in our Evacuating in an Emergency Form