11:21 AM, 11th January 2021, About 2 years ago 3
A recent incident in my own HMO with fan heaters plugged in but hidden behind bedding making the place an absolute death trap made me realise just how little tenants (and indeed most landlords) understand about fire safety.
Most tenants, and many landlords, don’t really comprehend that, even with modern ‘fire-resistant’ furniture, fire can progress from the first, tiny, flame to a raging 800 Celsius inferno in less than three minutes.
Let that sink in.
The time from an item of furniture, fabric, or papers catching light from an initial smouldering flame to an all-engulfing fireball that no-one can survive is UNDER THREE MINUTES.
But actually, it’s far worse than that.
Because within the first two minutes the room fills with choking, poisonous, lung-boiling smoke.
And it’s this smoke that kills most people. They don’t actually live long enough to die of burns.
Although by two minutes, if you haven’t escaped you’d be suffering life-changing third-degree burns.
A house fire in a rental property, HMO or even your own home can be caused by very many things including an overloaded or faulty multi-way adaptor, phone charger, fan heater or oil-fired heater, hairdryer, cooling-tongs.
In the kitchen, the most likely causes are a fat fire on the stove, a tumble dryer with an over-full fluff filter or a faulty washing machine, dishwasher or fridge.
Unaware of the massive danger it creates in a fire situation, tenants merrily wedge open fire doors they find inconvenient, and they cover or disable vital smoke alarms putting at risk their own lives, and those of everyone in the property.
For older landlords, they probably remember fire education in their youth where there was generally ten minutes or more before the horsehair and wool even started to burn significantly.
Modern furnishings are not like that. They are full of synthetic foam that goings up like crazy once the fire-resistant fabric gives up the ghost. And these modern materials give off highly poisonous gases like Cyanide, Phosgene (WWII nerve gas) and Carbon Monoxide.
Fire safety evangelists at Landlord Licensing & Defence have put together a shock-impact graphic pdf booklet for Landlords to distribute to tenants in order to educate them and ensure that they really ‘get’ the danger of fire.
It explains the main causes of fire and how to avoid them and explains what fire doors and alarms really do to save their lives.
The booklet has a 2-minute 22-second video embedded by hyperlink and by QR code that shows in real-time the process from smouldering to all-engulfing fireball.
Landlords can download the life-saving booklet, with a free licence to give to all their tenants, here bit.ly/t-fire
Landlord Licensing & Defence assists landlords to avoid prosecution through property compliance assessment and helps them to fight the over-exuberance of Councils in criminalising and vilifying landlords for their own financial gain.
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14:27 PM, 11th January 2021, About 2 years ago
The booklet is indeed a salutary warning for tenants. (Grenfell has two l's by the way). However, if this is A Rough Guide for Tenants why the last page which is addressed squarely at landlords and which may confuse tenants?
14:43 PM, 11th January 2021, About 2 years ago
I can't help observing that if the property had effective cost efficient central heating and sufficient plug outlets for modern needs then that might be a solution.
11:32 AM, 16th January 2021, About 2 years ago
Thank you for the reminder. This is incredibaly important. On a personal note fire terrifies me - my earliest memory is of a fire in a farm building (full of turkeys) at our house when I was 3 years old. It was 1969 and we weren't even on the telephone! In later life I spotted a fire in a cottage on our farm drive; the family were in but not aware. It was caused by washing on top of the hot water cylinder and faulty wiring. Within 5 minutes of me seeing smoke the cottage had gone.
As a valuer of let houses I see disasters waiting to happen every week. Clutter is a big worry - things that can catch fire surrounding coookers and heaters. Many older houses have inadequate sockets for modern living so tenants resort to multiple adaptors.
My big worry is that so many people (not just tenants) cannot open their front door quick enough as they have locked it and moved the key. Absolutely ridiculous - in a fire situation they would struggle to get out quick enough.
My final fire story relates to someone who worked for me. Her family own a large day nursery which burnt down last year. All electrical and fire safety regulations were up to date with no failings. The fire brigade put it down to a cheap phone charger being left plugged in. Luckily the fire was at night so there were no children about.