A company behind a fire safety initiative has surveyed tenants in both the private and social rental sectors, and claims shortcomings in both.
Some 33 per cent of all renters have experienced fire doors being damaged or propped open in the last 12 months, a quarter say they have been living with a broken or missing fire extinguisher, and just under a quarter were apparently aware of a smoke alarm that wasn’t working.
More than one in 10 renters have had concerns over their building’s cladding in the past year and the same proportion have noticed a fire exit in their property being blocked.
The British Woodworking Federation claims twice as many private renters had experienced a smoke alarm not working in the last 12 months and three times as many had experienced fire doors being damaged or propped open in the same period, compared to those living in social housing.
Commenting on these findings, spokesperson Helen Hewitt says: “Fire safety measures such as fire doors play a vital role in containing the spread of smoke and fire, allowing building occupants to safely exit a building in the event of a fire while emergency services respond.
“It’s shocking that despite the government’s focus on improving fire safety across the UK, those in rental properties continue to be put at risk through inadequate fire safety measures including damaged fire doors.
“In England alone there were 176 fire related fatalities in dwelling fires and more than 6,500 non fatal casualties in 2020. Private and social housing landlords have a duty of care to ensure that their tenants live in safe properties, and we urge then to act without delay so that those people are protected.”
Gavin Tomlinson, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Protection Committee adds: “Fire doors that are damaged, poorly fitted or wedged open are not fire doors, they are just doors – they will not save lives or protect property.
“We encourage tenants to report any fire safety concerns to their landlord and if these are not resolved contact your local authority or seek advice from your fire and rescue service. It’s important that the minority of landlords who do not comply with the law should not be allowed to ignore fire safety and put the lives of tenants at risk.”
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