We have information covering the major risks that can cause danger for you, your families and your neighbours. Please read our frequently asked questions carefully and follow the instructions to make sure you are as safe as possible.
Why can’t we store things like prams and bikes in communal areas? We always have done before.
Hundreds of fires every year start in communal areas according to the London Fire Brigade. To prevent these we are legally required to carry out fire risk assessments (FRAs). The assessments, as well as government guidance, demand that common areas are free of combustible material, sources of ignition, and obstructions.
As a result, any items that are left in communal areas will be removed. We will write to you first to give you a clear written notice that your items must be removed, but if the obstructions remain we will be forced to remove them.
Why is this so important?
Should a fire break out in your property, items left in communal areas could prevent you or your neighbours – particularly those who may be elderly or children – evacuating the property safely. In a potentially smoke-filled area, these obstructions can also make it harder for firefighters to do their job.
Prams, pushchairs, bicycles and mobility scooters are among the large, bulky items that can block exit routes and cause trip hazards, but other smaller items will also be removed. Shoe racks must be kept inside your front door, rather than outside, while doormats will only be allowed to remain if they are in good condition. Finally, piles of unopened letters pose a real risk of fire, either due to arson or combustion. Letters to former residents, or junk mail, can be returned by labelling them “return to sender” and posting them. If you are going on holiday, maybe ask a neighbour to keep your mail for you.
If you need help removing large or bulky items, contact your housing officer/PMO or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this.
Is it safe to smoke indoors?
Fires caused by smoking result in more deaths than any other type of fire.
It is safer to smoke outside, but you should still ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished and disposed of properly.
If you do wish to smoke indoors – never smoke in bed, and don’t smoke in an armchair, or on a sofa, if you think you may fall asleep. Take extra care when you are tired, taking prescription drugs or have been drinking alcohol.
Use proper ashtrays that can’t tip over and never balance your cigarette or cigar on the edge. Never leave a lit cigarette unattended.
Electronic cigarettes are safer as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed, but only ever use the battery and charger provided with the e-cigarette, don’t leave it on charge overnight and never use it if it is damaged.
Whether traditional or electronic, never smoke close to medical oxygen.
How can I avoid fires caused by electrical appliances?
Electrical fires are common, but many can be easily avoided. Scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason could all be signs of loose or dangerous wiring. If you have any doubts, get them checked by a qualified electrician.
Make sure electrical items have a British or European safety mark and keep them clean and in good working order. Keep to one plug per socket, rather than using extension leads and adapters.
In the event of a power cut, call 105, a free line which will put you through to your local electricity network provider who can give help and advice.
When charging phones, tablets, e-cigarettes and so on, always use the charger that came with your device as counterfeit chargers can be deadly. Many fail to meet UK safety regulations. Also, do not leave items plugged in once they are fully charged.
Faulty electrical goods can also cause fires. If you have a concern about a product, stop using it and make your concern known to the retailer, manufacturer and local Trading Standards office. You can check whether an appliance has been recalled by visiting www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls.
What can be done to reduce the risk of arson?
Arson is the number one cause of fire in the UK and there are several steps you can take day-to-day to ensure your building is safer.
- Close bin stores and don’t leave items outside which may attract arsonists.
- Make sure that doors are closed behind you when you leave your property.
- Be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to your housing officer, property management officer, the customer service centre or the police.
Why are the fire doors in my building so important?
The fire doors throughout your building are a vital safety measure for protecting you, your family and your neighbours in the event of a fire. They prevent fires from being able to spread through the building. It is very important to ensure that fire doors are closed when not in use, so never use any item to hold them open. Similarly, you must not tamper with or remove the self-closing devices on any door.
We carry out checks on these doors, and other safety measures, at least once a year, but if you notice any fire door isn't closing properly you should report it to us immediately.
I find candles very relaxing, but are they safe to use?
Naked flames present a serious risk of fire in your home. Make sure you put out any candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room – and especially before bed. Ensure they are held firmly in heat-resistant holders and placed on a stable surface away from materials that could catch fire such as curtains, furniture or clothes. Candles that come in their own purpose-built jar can be safer, while also having an air-tight lid to remove oxygen and ensure the flame is out.
How can I be safer in the kitchen?
More fires and fire injuries are caused by carelessness in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home. Heat alarms fitted in kitchens can detect the increase in temperature caused by a fire without being set off by cooking fumes. If you have one fitted, test it monthly.
Avoid leaving cooking unattended and if you have to leave while cooking, it’s safer to take pans off the heat and turn off the hob and/or grill.
Keep your oven, hob, cooker hood and grill clean – build-ups of fat and grease can ignite.
If a pan catches fire, don’t tackle it yourself. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so, leave the room, shout a warning to others and call 999. Never throw water over a pan fire as it could create a fireball.
Take extra care when cooking with hot oil and never fill a pan more than one-third full. If possible, use an electric deep fat fryer instead.
I find it difficult to manage all the possessions in my property. There’s so much stuff and it’s becoming a bit overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the things in your home, and too many possessions can become a bit of a problem. This can also be a risk if they block your means of escape, or are combustible. If you’d like some help or want to discuss this, please get in touch with your housing officer/property management officer/the customer service centre.
How can I keep my balcony fire safe?
If a fire breaks out on your balcony it will spread much faster than indoors, due to the unlimited supply of oxygen and fire spreading due to the wind. We want you to enjoy the use of your balcony but we want you to do so safely. You can reduce the risks by:
- Keeping the number of items on our balcony to a minimum by removing any combustible items and materials. These include items such as storage boxes, small balcony sheds, screens, floor coverings or decking, tins of paint, electrical appliances, plastic children's toys and other clutter.
- Not using barbecues, fire pits or patio heaters. Fires caused by these types of items can spread very quickly to the balcony above and below or into your property via open doors or windows.
- You are able to have one table and two chairs on your balcony, as long as they are wholly made of metal.
- Not smoking on your balcony. However, if you choose to, then it is really important you do not drop cigarettes on or over the side of your balcony. Cigarettes should be fully extinguished in an ashtray or bucket of sand/water.
- Not storing gas cylinders (or other items containing flammable liquid) on your balcony as there is a risk it may explode if left in direct sunlight.
- Never using or storing fireworks on your balcony.
If your balcony is a communal area it may be a fire escape route and therefore should be kept clear of any items at all times. This will allow you and your neighbours to evacuate safely if you need to do so.
Can I safely store an electric bike/e-scooter at home?
With the rise in ownership of electric bikes and e-scooters, the London Fire Brigade has seen a growing number of fires caused by lithium batteries, so much so they have launched their #ChargeSafe campaign.
Most of the dangers lie in charging the device, so if you own an electric bike or e-scooter, please make sure you:
- Never charge them while you are sleeping or not at home
- Unplug the charger once it has finished charging
- Don’t cover the charger as it could lead to overheating or catching fire
There are also safety issues around kits you can buy online to convert a standard bike to an e-bike. These kits are lithium-ion battery packs and many do not meet UK safety regulations. Make sure:
- The battery and charger meet UK safety standards and you always use the correct charger
- To never tamper with the battery and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- That you are wary of DIY kits you can get online to convert a standard bike to an e-bike
Never keep an electric bike or e-scooter in a fire escape route. If you witness an electric bike or e-scooter battery start to catch light, immediately evacuate the property, close the door behind you and call the fire brigade. Do not try and tackle the fire or move the bike/scooter.
What precautions do Notting Hill Genesis take to keep us safe from fire?
We undertake regular checks, known as fire risk assessments, on all the blocks we own or manage. These are carried out by qualified professionals and if they find anything they think poses a risk, we act quickly to fix it. If any work is identified within the block or your property we would appreciate your assistance in gaining access so the issues can be resolved as quickly as possible
Fire doors are installed throughout our buildings to contain any fires that may occur, while front entrance doors to flats are also designed to hold back the spread of smoke and fire. If there is any damage to your front door please report this.
It is vital that you keep fire doors closed at all times and don’t prop them open, and also that you don’t tamper with the main front door to your home in any way as this could reduce its effectiveness as a fire door. If you have a faulty door closure or you don’t have a door closure fitted to your front door, please report this.
Make sure your home has smoke or heat detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and that you test them regularly. If you don’t have a heat and smoke detector please report this and we will arrange installation.
Procedures for what to do in the event of a fire vary between properties. Make sure you read and understand the information for your home carefully. If you live in a block you’ll find a fire action notice on your communal notice board. If you can’t find one, contact your housing officer, property management officer or the customer service centre.
Can I see the fire risk assessment for my block?
If you live in a block, fire safety experts will have carried out a fire risk assessment (FRA) for your property. You are now able to request the FRA for your block by submitting the form below:
What is the difference between stay-put and evacuation policies?
Stay-put policies are recommended by fire brigades for purpose-built blocks designed to contain fires. If the fire is not in your home, but in another part of the building, you will be safer staying in your home unless the heat or smoke is affecting you. Homes with a stay-put policy are designed to hold back flames and smoke for up to 30 minutes.
If there is a fire or smoke in your home, get everyone out and leave the building as calmly as possible, closing the door behind you and not using the lift. Once you’re outside, call 999.
If your home operates an evacuation policy, you should leave the building in the event of a fire no matter which part of the building it is in. Go to a place outside, which is away from the building, and dial 999.
Check your fire action notice for details of which policy is used in your home.
Talk to us
Our housing teams are here to help you, so please log into My Account and let your housing officer or property management officer know if:
- You spot a fire hazard such as items stored in communal areas or fire doors being propped open.
- You plan to carry out alterations or improvements to your home – this is important so that we can check that your plans won’t affect any fire stopping or safety features in your home. If you’ve previously made an alteration without telling us, please contact us now so that we can check that it hasn’t created a fire risk.