Making sure our residents have a safe place to live is our top priority and we continuously review and improve our fire safety arrangements.
We maintain regular fire risk assessments to keep your home safe. When we carry out communal area inspections, we check that fire equipment is not damaged and that there are no risks in the communal areas.
We have a 'stay put' strategy in place in many of our flats. Stay put strategies are often used in buildings where the fire can be contained where it started and where there is little risk of the fire spreading. If you’re concerned, or fire or smoke affects your home you should leave the building immediately using the nearest escape route.
If you live in a block of flats with a communal area, there will be a fire action notice posted on your communal noticeboard which advises you of what to do in the event of a fire.
All of our fire safety arrangements are reviewed by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. We have a Primary Authority Partnership with DSFRS and work closely with these fire authorities and local councils to ensure all our fire safety requirements are met and kept up-to-date.
Who should I call in case of a fire?
If you discover a fire in your home, leave immediately, close your front door behind you and call 999.
Should I leave the building in the event of a fire?
Evacuation procedures vary depending on the building. The recommended approach for your building will be set out in a fire safety notice in the communal areas. In many purpose built blocks of flats (not houses that have been converted into flats), a “stay put” approach is usually recommended. The materials your building is made out of are designed to contain a fire inside one flat. This means that if there is a fire in another flat in your block, you do not need to leave immediately and will be safer in your home. However, if you are in a communal area or you discover a fire in your home, leave immediately, close your front door behind you and call 999. In most converted houses, you should leave immediately if a fire breaks out in another part of the building.
Personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP)
A personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) is a plan for a person who lives in a property where there are communal areas, e.g. a block of flats, and may need assistance to evacuate the building or reach a place of safety in the event of an emergency.
Who needs a PEEP?
A PEEP may be needed for someone with an impairment or disability such as:
- Mobility impairment
- Sight impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Cognitive impairment
- A medical condition or injury which might cause them to need assistance to evacuate safely
- Using an oxygen cylinder in their home
If at any time you believe you will require assistance to leave the building in case of an emergency, then please complete a PEEP on the link below and send it to us.PEEP form
What are the fire arrangements for my property?
You’ll find a fire action notice displayed in the entrance or ground floor communal area of your building. If you cannot find your fire action notice, please contact your housing manager. Remember, if you have a fire in your own home (or fire or smoke affects it from elsewhere) you should leave immediately and call 999.
Is there an evacuation plan for my building?
If your building operates a stay put strategy, this means the walls and ceilings between flats are sufficient to contain a fire, meaning you don’t need to be notified immediately of a fire elsewhere in the building. However, if fire or smoke affects your home, or if you’re instructed by the emergency services to leave, you should do so at once. If your building operates an evacuation strategy, in the event of an alarm sounding, you should leave the building immediately and call 999.
How can I stop a fire in my building?
There are lots of things that you can do to keep your home and your building safe from fire:
- Keep communal areas clear. Items blocking communal areas can help a fire to spread and also block your escape routes. This includes not leaving buggies, bicycles, thick or curled doormats, laundry, shoes or any other items in communal areas, entranceways or corridors
- Keep your balcony clear at all times. Balcony fires are not uncommon and often caused through the poor disposal of cigarette butts from above. Items left on the balcony increase this risk. Don’t use barbecues or leave flammable items such as gas bottles on your balcony.
- Don’t leave any open flames such as candles unattended.
- If you smoke in your home, make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished. It’s safer to smoke outside.
- If you use heaters, make sure they’re never covered or near any other items.
- Make sure any electrical appliances and devices are in good condition.
- Make sure the fire doors in both your home and communal areas are kept closed at all times – this is crucial in preventing the spread of fire.
- Do not tamper with the electrical or gas supply to your home.
- Do not block any vents in your home.
- Allow us access to your property to carry out your yearly gas equipment inspection.
Make sure your family know what to do in the event of fire. If you have any concerns and would like to speak to someone at Westward then please call us on 0300 100 1010.
How safe are my electrical items?
Appliances with the EU’s ‘CE’ mark are considered to be safe. Unfortunately, the Chinese Export mark is confusingly similar. If you have any doubts about any of your appliances, check with the manufacturer first of all. Their website will let you know if they have recalled any of their products. In general, we recommend that you turn off any appliance immediately if it begins making different noises, running differently or gives off a burning smell. Inspect the appliance, lead and plug for damage. If you cannot see an issue, you should either call out someone to repair the appliance or dispose of it safely. If you are disposing of an electrical item, remember to cut off the plug and lead once disconnected from the mains, to prevent someone picking it up and reusing it.
What are you doing on fire safety following Grenfell Tower fire?
To ensure your safety in your home, fire risk assessments are carried out in all blocks with a communal area, such as a stairwell or corridor. All our fire risk assessments are currently up to date. However, in light of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, we carried out extra safety reviews of all blocks to make extra sure our residents are safe.
As part of our fire safety reviews, we have surveyed the cladding on our properties, in line with government guidelines. None of our properties are affected.
None of the cladding on Westward’s properties is made from ACM (aluminium composite material, the type of cladding which is of concern). We will consider all possible methods of mitigating fire risk - cost will not, and never has been, a barrier to providing the most appropriate solution.
Does my building comply with fire regulations?
All our blocks meet building regulations and are fully compliant with safety requirements which are based on a number of fire safety components. Fire safety legislation requires us to carry out regular fire risk assessments and we employ an external team of fire risk assessors to complete these on our behalf.
In addition, asset, caretaking and housing management teams regularly visit properties and raise repairs where necessary, making sure communal areas are kept clear.
Communal fire alarms
You do not need communal fire alarms. Building regulations and other guidance recommends that communal fire alarms are not necessary in purpose-built blocks of flats as in the event of a fire, only residents in the affected property need to evacuate. The walls and ceilings between flats are sufficient to contain a fire, meaning you don’t need to be notified immediately of a fire elsewhere in the building. However, if fire or smoke affects your home, or if you’re instructed by the emergency services to leave, you should do so at once.
Blocks of flats built since April 2007 must have sprinkler systems if the building is 30 metres high or more. This is roughly equal to ten storeys or higher. Fire regulations do not state that sprinkler systems must be installed in older blocks and smaller blocks.
Fire extinguishers in communal areas
The communal areas in your block should be kept clear meaning fire extinguishers are not needed. The fire brigade prefer that fire extinguishers are not provided, because they do not want residents to fight a potentially dangerous fire themselves, as this could put you at greater risk. If you discover a fire in your home, leave immediately, close your front door behind you and call 999.
Keeping communal areas clear
To ensure the health and safety of our residents who live in blocks with communal areas, such as hallways and stairs, we are obliged to ensure that such areas are free of health and safety and fire hazards. Not just flammable items but anything that can obstruct a potential escape route or hinder the access of emergency services.
Residents are not permitted to use the communal areas to store personal household belongings nor to have items such as doormats, flowerpots, bench seats or shoe storage.
Where we discover any health and safety hazards in communal areas, we will firstly try and locate the owner of the items and ask for them to be removed, if we are unable to identify the owner, we will then serve a Tort Notice on the items. Click here to find out more.