Fire safety for tenants
We want to help you prevent fires in your home, and protect the lives of you and your loved ones. As well as providing you with smoke alarms, if you have an assured, secure or fixed term tenancy we check and service your gas, oil and solid fuel appliances (and the pipework) in your annual gas safety check. We also carry out regular inspections of electrical systems.
Get fire smart
There’s a lot that you can also do to Get Fire Smart and protect your family and your home from the danger of fire.
(If you're a shared owner or leaseholder, please visit our fire safety for leaseholders page for information that's tailored to your responsibilities.)
Follow the advice below
- Test your smoke alarm and any carbon monoxide detector at least monthly by pressing the button. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace the battery - or contact us immediately if you have a mains-powered smoke alarm fitted, so we can arrange to fix it. This is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Replace the batteries each year or when the alarm sounds to show that the batteries are running low.
- You could consider fitting additional battery-powered alarms yourself – these are best located in the centre of the ceiling, at least a foot away from any fittings (like lights).
- Smoke makes it almost impossible to see when you're trying to escape - so plan how you’d escape if a fire did break out, and then practice it with your family.
- The best exit is usually the nearest exit but have a back-up plan in case it's blocked. You could include any ground floor windows in your plan.
- Make sure everyone knows the escape plan.
- Keep keys near doors and windows so it’s quicker to get out. (For security reasons, don’t keep them within reach from outside.)
- If there’s smoke, keep as low as possible as the air’s clearer there.
- Check doors before you open them – if they’re hot, there’s fire the other side so use your plan B exit.
- If you’re the last one out, close the door behind you to slow the progress of the fire.
If you are unable to evacuate your home in the event of a fire - due to either a permanent or temporary disability, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can carry out a ‘Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan’ (PEEP) with you.
- Keep corridors and exits clear. As well as fuelling a fire, obstructions block your escape route and prevent the fire service getting in to put out the fire.
- If you live somewhere with communal corridors or other areas, it's essential you don't leave items like bikes, buggies or mobility scooters in them.
- If we become aware of items left in communal areas of Sovereign blocks, we'll remove them within one working day.
- Take care in the kitchen – don't leave cooking unattended and keep electrical appliances and leads away from water.
- Faulty appliances are a common cause of house fires - so check your electrical appliances to make sure there’s no evidence of faults, loose or exposed wires. Cheap or faulty phone chargers have also caused several fires in Sovereign homes.
- Don't overload sockets or daisy chain sockets together (where you plug multiple extensions into each other) – this is extremely dangerous.
- Avoid running appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers running overnight or when you’re out (as you won’t be around to spot any problems). Clean lint from tumble dryers.
- You can register your domestic appliances to be the first to find out if any safety issues or recalls affect you. It's easy to do and free.
- Don’t burn candles in your home and keep soft furnishings away from anything that generates heat, including light bulbs.
- If you smoke, make sure you stub any cigarettes completely out.
- If you have an e-bike, e-scooter or mobility scooter, store and charge this safely. Don't store or charge it in communal areas of a block (except if there is a dedicated area for mobility scooters). Store it somewhere cool, rather than in a very hot or cold area. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when you charge the battery and don't leave this charging constantly, overnight or unattended. Make sure batteries are not damaged and let them cool down before you recharge them.
Know the fire safety arrangements for your block: what’s the evacuation policy?
All Sovereign blocks of flats display Fire Action Notices in the communal areas. These give the fire safety procedures to follow in the unlikely event of a fire, so please read these and, if you’re not sure, contact us.
If you discover a fire, always dial 999 and give the full property address when you ask the fire service to attend.
Since January 2023, new regulations mean that we will carry out quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common areas of blocks over 11m high, as these play an important part in containing any fire.
We’ll also start annual checks of entrance doors to flats which lead on to the common areas of a block: these also count as fire doors.
However tall your building is, please:
- keep fire doors closed - don't prop them open as they're there to stop the spread of fire
- don’t tamper with doors and self-closing devices
- report any faults or damage to fire doors or self-closer door fixings immediately on 0300 5000 926, so that we can fix them.
Exits and communal corridors
- Keep all exits and communal corridors clear - if you notice others are blocking corridors and you’d like us to speak to them, please let us know.
- Keep buggies, bikes, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, e-bikes and e-scooters out of communal corridors, stairwells or near exits - and don't charge the batteries for them in these areas.
- Never use a lift to escape – you could become trapped.
- If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours, consider how you could safely help them in an emergency.
- Never use a BBQ on a balcony as this could start a fire.
- If you smoke, always make sure you stub out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully.
In the year to July 2022 there were 310 balcony fires across the country. 59% of these were caused by smoking but matches, candles, electrical faults and BBQs were other leading causes.
Here’s some balcony safety advice from the National Fire Chiefs Council.
- Enjoy balconies safely and keep them clutter free: they should not be used for storage. Balconies can be an important escape route for residents or an access point for firefighters.
- Never use BBQs, including disposable ones, indoors or on a balcony. They pose a fire and carbon monoxide risk.
- Fire pits, patio heaters and chimineas should also not be used on balconies.
- Avoid smoking on any balconies. If you do smoke on a balcony, do not discard cigarettes or smoking materials on or over the balcony. Use a sturdy ashtray with a small amount of water in it to make sure material is extinguished.
- Never store flammable or hazardous materials on balconies, such as gas cylinders.
- Do not use or set off fireworks or sky lanterns from balconies.
- Do not store or use white goods (such as tumble dryers) on balconies. These could not only be a fire risk but balconies are not designed for storing heavy items.
- Do not modify your balcony or install combustible screening.
Discarded cigarettes and BBQs can be a cause of fires if you're not careful. Extreme hot and dry weather also mean that grass, hedges and other natural materials like wooden fences are at a far higher risk of catching fire and of a fire spreading quickly.
If you smoke:
- It’s safer to smoke outside and away from your home or other buildings and from anything flammable, such as bark chips on a garden border.
- Avoid smoking on balconies but, if you do, make sure you do not discard cigarettes or smoking materials on or over the balcony. Use a sturdy ashtray with a small amount of water in it to make sure material is extinguished.
If you’re having a BBQ:
- Always put BBQs on level ground, well away from anything flammable like sheds, fences or trees.
- BBQs are not permitted on balconies.
- Never use any sort of BBQ indoors.
- Don't use petrol or paraffin to light a BBQ – firelighters are a much safer option.
- Never leave a BBQ unattended.
- Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby in case of emergency.
- Be aware of the wind direction and who else is affected by your smoke as they may not appreciate it.
- Dispose of ashes safely – make sure they’ve cooled down before you move the BBQ or get rid of them.
- Clean removable parts of a BBQ with soapy water to stop fat building up.
You can find more BBQ safety tips on the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service website.
Heatwave health advice:
Visit the NHS website's heatwave: how to cope in hot weather page for more advice on keeping yourself or vulnerable friends and family safe in the heat.
Stay safe in your leisure time:
We’ve teamed up with safety charity RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) to help keep you safe everywhere, every day. Check out the resources in our leisure safety toolkit for more simple safety hints and tips on topics like BBQs and water safety.
Please keep lofts clear at all times as they’re not part of the living space in your home.
- Storing items in the loft can restrict access to cables and water tanks, which could be a fire risk.
- If there is a fire in your home, stored items in the loft could act as fuel and allow the fire to spread and cause more damage.
Please also remember that ceiling joists and horizontal rafters in a loft are only designed to hold up the ceiling below. Storing your belongings there may cause the ceiling to bow and crack, or fall down. You could even be injured or killed if you are in a loft and stand on the ceiling by mistake as this can’t take a person’s weight.
Using your loft for storage can also disrupt the airflow or crush the loft insulation, increasing the risk of damp and mould. And a cluttered or messy loft can potentially cause a pest infestation, damaging your belongings as well as the fabric of your home – and making it hard to access the loft for any repair.
We review fire safety in all of our taller buildings each year to make sure our advice is correct and to identify any improvements we can carry out to make our homes even safer.
Our safety in communal areas page also explains why you must not use corridors and escape routes to store any possessions, to dump unwanted goods or for decorative items outside your front door. This includes bicycles or pushchairs.
We also work with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service about fire safety in our homes. Check out their website for what to do if a fire occurred in your flat or block .
This film of an evacuation drill with the fire service at one of our housing for older people schemes gives some more top tips.
If you would like to see subtitles for the video, please click on the CC button at the bottom of the video.
Please visit our gas safety page for more information on your annual gas safety check, what to do if you smell gas and why you need to get our permission first if you want to fit your own gas appliances (such as a fire in a spare fireplace).
For more information, the government's Fire Kills website has lots of tips.
You can also contact your local fire service for advice (some can arrange a free home fire safety check) by visiting www.fireservice.co.uk .
If you’d like some more advice on any aspect of safety, please contact us .