Partners and Suppliers Ed Mead 24/10/2023

Quarterly Fire Door Checks and Person Centered Fire Risk Assessments

What would £25,800 mean to your business? Would it allow you to hire another member of staff? Could it fund your portal fees for a year? Maybe you could upgrade your property management software for that figure? 

The sum of £25,800 is substantial and it’s also what one letting agent in Northampton was fined after a number of fire safety issues were found in a HMO it managed. The breaches identified included poorly maintained fire doors and missing smoke alarms, which were in addition to an electrical meter that had been tampered with, seriously jeopardising the safety of the four people living there.  

You would think that putting lives at risk would be enough to prompt landlords and their property managers to make fire safety a priority, especially in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, but it doesn’t appear to be the case for everyone.

Earlier in 2023, the shocking findings of joint research conducted by digital construction solution providers, Zutec and Createmaster, found the majority of UK non-freehold tenants do not feel 100% safe within the building in which they live.  

The headline findings included: 

  • 41% of residents questioned stated they had experienced or observed fire safety hazards in their building/home, such as fire escapes being locked or issues such as non-existent or faulty sprinkler systems, fire alarms or extinguishers 

  • Only 4 in 10 tenants surveyed said they felt completely safe in their homes  

  • 8 out of 10 residents felt safety issues raised were not responded to or addressed quickly, adequately or effectively enough by the building manager or owner  

  • Just 40% stated they had access to, or have seen, building fire certificates   

  • Only 21% said that the party responsible for maintenance responded quickly when safety-related issues were raised.    

With many private and social housing tenants living in leasehold apartment blocks or multi-storey properties and shared buildings, more needs to be done to ensure current fire safety regulations are adhered to. Viewber has been working with property managers in the private and social rented sectors to ensure adequate resources are available to conduct all the compulsory fire safety checks legally required. 

NEW! Person-Centred Fire Risk Assessments now available 

Viewber has now introduced UK fire brigade-recommended Person-Centred Fire Risk Assessments (PCFRAs) to our suite of fire safety checks. This assessment is designed to identify vulnerable tenants most at risk from fire, to help prevent avoidable tragedies and to identify whether a Personalised Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is required. 

During a PCFRA, a Viewber will meet with the tenant and complete a form that evaluates the property and the tenant’s lifestyle. For example, a Viewber will look for signs of smoking, vaping and use of candles; will ask if the tenant uses petroleum/paraffin based creams, an air pressure mattress, oxygen cylinders or an electric blanket; will look for portable heaters and unsafe cooking practices, and will check for visible faulty/damaged wiring and overloaded electrical sockets/adaptors/extension leads. A Viewber will also check for signs of previous fires, burns or scorch marks on fittings and fixtures, and note whether any escape routes/doors are obstructed. 

As well as visual clues to a tenant’s fire risk and ability to escape an emergency event, a Viewber will note whether the tenant has any clear physical or mental impairments that may make it harder for them to react to a fire alarm, take appropriate action and vacate the building. Clear displayed characteristics and traits, such as hoarding, impairments and disabilities will be noted. 

Book your quarterly fire door check 

From 23rd January 2023, The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 places extra requirements on ‘responsible persons’ in charge of multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height. 

Included in the legal requirement are quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in common parts - whether 11m+ or not - to keep that audit trail clear. In addition, and on a best endeavour basis, is the requirement to undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts in residential buildings that are more than 11 metres in height.  

Viewber has been offering fire door safety checks for a number of months and we are pleased to have completed hundreds of checks for private and social landlords. Our visits are followed by a detailed report that allows property managers to stay compliant and protect tenants without leaving their desks. 

Book to have smoke alarm & carbon monoxide detectors tested 

A Viewber can also be booked to perform audible tests on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on behalf of a property manager or landlord as part of their wider fire safety duty of care. These tests can be booked as a stand-alone service, or they can be combined with a PCFRA and/or fire door checks. 

Viewbers carrying out PCFRAs, fire door checks and alarm tests are trained to rigorous standards for your peace of mind. Viewber also spot checks the quality of follow-up reports on a regular basis and reviews training in line with new fire safety legislation.    

If you would like Viewber to assist with your fire safety duty of care, please contact the team for a discovery call.  

Ed Mead

Ed Mead Founding Director and Chief Executive, Viewber

An estate agent for 37 years & Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Ed spent 22 years at Douglas & Gordon before conceiving the 'Viewber' concept in 2016 - a successful property solution that's helped professionals across the UK manage properties (Landlords & Investors | Viewber - Viewings, Property Visits and more). As a high-profile industry figure, Ed has been a regular contributor to consumer and industry publications including the Times, Telegraph, Financial Times, Estate Gazette and Property Industry Eye.

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