Raising Rented Housing Standards in the East Midlands

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Fire Safety for Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Dwellings

Fire Safety Guide

There have been considerable changes to the mandatory requirements for protection from fire in dwellings. However, there is no defining guidance to indicate whether a dwelling will comply with all these requirements. The guidance in existence deals mostly with principles and is lacking in practical assistance. Accordingly, the translation into works required for compliance is left to the person responsible for the dwelling and the enforcement authorities to determine. For this purpose, Decent and Safe Homes East Midlands have commissioned this project, which will consider the requirements of the new legislation and provide practical guidance for compliance and the reduction of risk from fire.

The purpose of the guide is to provide the persons responsible for fire safety in houses with a reference to assist in the application of National Standards and good practices contained in:

Some consideration has also been given to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

These contribute to determining the ideal standard as required by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System ('HHSRS'), which is 'The perceived optimum standard, at the time of the assessment, intended to prevent, avoid or minimize the hazard'. The guide to the HHSRS also states 'As it is the perceived optimum prevailing at the time of assessment, this will change, and it is the responsibility of those using the HHSRS to keep up-to-date on what is the ideal.' This guide will assist in this, and provides floor plans and recommendations that Housing Standards Officers can use in carrying out their HHSRS risk assessment. This guide will also promote consistency of application.

Risk assessment, as required by the HHSRS for the hazard of fire, has not been undertaken, although consideration has been given to risk.

Revision of this guide may be required when the Building Regulations Approved Document B is finalised and guidance for compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 becomes available.

Thirty one different floor plans, which are typical of houses throughout the East Midlands, have been considered and a fire safety scheme applicable to each drafted. In some cases, the same floor plan has been assessed with different occupancies e.g. single household and three persons sharing. This is to give an indication of the different risks that accompany different types of occupancy. The categories used for occupancy are:

A new National Fire Safety Guidance document was launched by LACoRS on 23rd July 2008. Drawing heavily from the DASH fire safety guide that has been available to local authorities and landlords within the East Midlands since 2006, the guidance provides advice on how to keep residential buildings safe from fire, explains how to carry out a fire risk assessment and includes a range of case studies.

'Housing - Fire Safety', was developed by LACORS, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). The guidance provides advice on how to keep residential buildings safe from fire, explains how to carry out a fire risk assessment and includes a range of case studies.

The guidance applies to existing residential accommodation including single family houses, bedsits, shared houses and flats. It does not apply to new housing that is built to modern building regulations. Landlords who follow this guidance will be well placed to satisfy requirements set out under fire safety legislation.

The guidance also assists councils and fire and rescue authorities who enforce fire safety legislation in residential accommodation. It will help them to adopt a more consistent risk-based approach.

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald, chairman of LACORS, said:

"It's important that landlords carry out a fire risk assessment and make sure their properties have the right safety measures in place. Tenants have the right to expect that their accommodation is safe and that they will not be injured in a fire.
"Councils have an important role to play in fire safety and are working closely with fire and rescue authorities and local landlords to cut household fires, which claim more than 300 lives each year. But those landlords who intentionally flout the law can expect to face tough action in the courts."

The DASH guide and plans has now been revised to reflect changes in light of the national guidance and is now available in the same easy to access format as the original. Landlords are advised to carefully read the guidance to ensure they are compliant with the new requirements. If there is any doubt, landlords should contact the Private Rented Sector departments of their local authority. For contact names and numbers for these departments within East Midlands local authorities, please see the useful links page of this website, contact DASH on 01332 256475 or dash@derby.gov.uk

The new Housing - Fire Safety Guidance is available on the LACoRS website.

Please see other relevant downloads regarding Fire Safety on the downloads page.

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Fire Risk Assessment - for use by landlords of small premises

This Fire Risk Assessment Form [565kb] has been produced for use by persons carrying out a fire risk assessment of small houses in multiple occupation and other dwellings and should be used in conjuction with the revised Fire Safety Guide for Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Dwellings [20.71mb]; and/or Housing - Fire Safety guidance.

Completion of the fire risk assessment form should assist in complying with the requirements of both the Housing Act 2004 (and supporting Housing, Health & Safety Rating System), and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

This document was produced by Decent & Safe Homes East Midlands with acknowledgement to C.S. Todd & Associates Ltd.

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