Statistics show that people are more at risk of dying in a fire if they are classed as a ‘vulnerable tenant’, so it’s important to ensure that you have the right fire safety measures in place to protect them. The Department of Health (2008) defines a vulnerable tenant as:
“A person aged 18 or over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of himself or herself against significant harm or exploitation.”
Under the Equality Act (2010) and the Regulatory Reform Order (2005), housing providers have a responsibility to ensure that high-risk adults are not placed under unfair disadvantage, and that they will be able to safely leave the building in the event of a fire.
This is particularly important when it comes to social housing, where there are a higher percentage of vulnerable adults. 43% of people living in social housing are living with a long-term disability, which means that a higher grade of fire protection needs to be put in place.
This higher grade of protection is the LD1 and LD2 category outlined in the British Standards (BS) 5839: Pt.6, which covers recommendations for fire alarms within all dwellings. Under LD1 and LD2, alarms should be in all spaces that form part of escape routes, as well as all areas where a fire could start (excluding bathrooms). The minimum requirement is LD3, which states that fire alarms must be at least in any exit routes, such as hallways and landings. The purpose of these recommendations is to provide a quicker response to fires.
Here are our top fire safety measures to consider when providing fire safety for adults at high risk.
There are five steps to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of the building:
- Identify fire hazards
- Identify people at risk
- Evaluate, remove or reduce and protect against remaining risk
- Record, plan, instruct, inform and train
Special attention should be paid to the specific needs and requirements of vulnerable persons. In addition to undertaking a risk assessment, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) Guidance (2008), will help provide guidance on fire safety in residential accommodation and help clarify any discrepancies between the risk assessment processes outlined in the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
If you need any more information, take a look at our Fire Safety Standards and Regulations blog post.
Interlinking Smoke Alarms
If you’ve only had standalone alarms installed, they’ll be limited in the distance that their sound can travel, meaning that if tenants aren’t close by they may not hear them. This is especially relevant if there are any vulnerable persons present who have hearing difficulties. Concerns have also been raised regarding children sleeping through alarms.
To assist with hearing difficulties, it is recommended to install an interlinking fire alarm system, so that all the alarms are triggered to sound when one of them detects a problem.
A resonating low frequency sounder has been shown to be more easily heard by people with hearing difficulties, and are more effective in waking up children, elderly tenants and those who are under the influence of alcohol.
For tenants who have severe hearing loss or are deaf, a combination of strobes and vibrating pads can also be used. Strobes will provide a visual warning during waking hours, whereas if vibrating pads are placed under a pillow they will vibrate to alert a person during the night.
Alongside the low frequency sounders, these strobes and pads can be wirelessly linked with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to provide additional protection in the event of a fire.
Wi-Safe 2 products are quick and easy to install. Please see our step by step guide, or watch the video below for a quick demo:
An automatic stove shut-off device such as the SONA Stove Guard by FireAngel greatly increases kitchen safety for vulnerable tenants. This device can learn the resident’s cooking habits, identify dangerously high or quickly rising temperatures and immediately turn off the electric cooker before a fire can start.
This is a great device because it supports independent living. A stove guard is perfect for tenants who still possess stove skills and judgement but may be liable to forget occasionally. For more information on the benefits of having a stove guard, click here.
Building on our Wi-Safe 2 wireless interlink system, new developments in ‘Connected Home’ technology are set to revolutionise fire safety for vulnerable tenants.
Wi-Safe Connect is a cloud-based management system which allows the external monitoring of alarms via a smartphone. Using this, you’d be able to notify the appropriate personnel as soon as an alarm sounds - for example, the tenant, landlord, family member or Fire and Rescue Services.
The benefits of this are that it can save time, money and increase safety, as you’ll be notified of any potential problems such as low batteries or repeated alarm activations.
Our ability to smell reduces with age, which raises issues as people who are over the age of 55 may struggle to notice the smell of combustible natural gas (methane) in the home without the help of an alarm. The installation of gas alarms is recommended to provide an extra level of protection, and battery-powered alarms are especially beneficial as they are portable, and can so be taken wherever you go!
It’s important to invest in the best fire safety measures possible, especially if tenants are living alone or are particularly high risk individuals. If you’re interested in learning more about these kinds of fire safety measures, you can have a look at our ‘Simplifying Legislation: Fire Safety in Social Housing’ for more information. In addition to this we have a new guide to help individuals navigate the rules, regulations and precautions recommended for fire safety in the kitchen.