Having completed all the required documentation and safety checks before a tenant moves in, it is important a landlord can thereafter trust his tenants to treat the property well and use it safely.
Primarily, there needs to be good communication between the landlord and tenant(s), whereby each party is aware of their responsibilities and obligations. Tenants should also be aware of what to do in the event of a problem in the rented property, for instance, if an alarm sounds or there is a fire in the premises.
One of the best ways to ensure that tenants are both educated about, and remember important safety information, is for landlords to provide them with a handout that they can keep in their home. For instance, our Kitchen Safety Guidelines eBook provides a range of information about fire safety in the home:
First section: Handout for tenants
Causes of fire, those most at risk, fire prevention, cooking advice, electrical safety, children’s safety, carbon monoxide, and what to do when an alarm sounds
Second section - Guidance for landlords
Risk assessments, installing alarms, CO legislation, interlinking alarms, kitchen safety guidelines/checklist
FireAngel Quick User Guides For HomeOwners
Fire alarm installation location
There are several different types of alarms with specific installation requirements, owing to their functionality and sensitivity. Therefore, to avoid nuisance alarms fire alarms must be installed in a location that is compliant with BS 5839: Part 6 and relevant Building Regulations.
When installing a fire alarm, ensure you refer to a relevant handout or user manual, as this exemplifies standard procedure, So, as the above illustration demonstrates, both smoke alarms and multi-sensor alarms (which allow fast detection of fast flaming and slow smouldering fires) can be installed in every room apart from the loft, garages, bathrooms and kitchen. They may be sensitive to a false alarm from dust, water vapour or cooking fumes in these rooms, so it is recommended to install heat alarms in these areas instead.Smoke alarms, multi-sensor alarms and heat alarms should be installed as folllows
- On the ceiling, as central as possible
- Sited 300mm from walls, windows and light fittings
- Placed within 3m of every escape door and bedroom door
- Positioned between high risk rooms (e.g. the kitchen) and bedrooms
- For peaked and sloped ceilings, smoke alarms must have a maximum of 600mm vertically down from the apex, and 150mm vertically down for heat alarms
FireAngel fire alarm installation
If the alarm is battery powered then the following applies during installation (1-4.), where an alarm must be removed from the mounting plate before batteries can be replaced.
If you wish to install a mains-powered smoke alarm, we would recommend contacting a qualified electrician. If you are a qualified electrician/ installer, we would recommend seeing our installing smoke alarms page.
Testing and cleaning
Once installed, it important that tenants/homeowners continue to test and maintain the fire alarms at regular intervals. The testing process for FireAngel alarms is as follows:
- Ensure the alarm is properly attached to the
- Press the test button in the centre and
Release - this will give an audible alarm
consisting of 2 cycles of 3 loud beeps, then
- Test alarms once a week
It is important to note that the test button accurately tests the alarm’s smoke sensing circuit - there is no need to test the alarm with smoke.
For cleaning, tenants should also be aware that their alarms should be delicately cleaned once every 3 months with a vacuum cleaner fitted with the soft brush.
When a fire alarm has low battery
A Low battery chirp from a nuisance alarm can be potentially dangerous if the tenant decides to remove batteries and/or tamper with the alarm. Tenants therefore need to know what to do in the event of a low battery - where they can either change it themselves (1-2) or have a contact number they can call to replace the alarm/batteries.
To negate the likelihood of this problem, it is recommended that a mains-powered smoke alarm with a 10-year sealed-for-life lithium backup battery is installed. This is both tamper-proof and reliable with a "always-on guarantee" in the event of power-supply failure. This therefore provides an enhanced level of fire safety for tenants.
Most FireAngel products also have a ‘Sleep Easy’ functionality, which allows tenants to silence an alarm’s low battery ‘chirp’ for up to 8 hours (1-2). This is particularly useful if the chirping is occurring at an inconvenient time - for instance, at night - as it will allow the tenant to wait until morning before taking action to replace it (3-4).
FireAngel designed smoke and heat alarms also include “Smart Silence” technology. This is when, in the event of a known false alarm, the smoke alarm can be temporarily silenced for 10 minutes (after which time it will return to full sensitivity), which can be done by pressing the central test button. As a result of this feature, tenants are much less likely to remove or tamper with the unit in the event of a false alarm.
What to do in the event of a fire
Landlords need to ensure that their tenants are aware of what to do in the event of fire, and a handout is a great way to remind them of the process:
Landlords should provide the following information to tenants:
- Even if the fire is in its very early stages in your home, it is never advisable to try and tackle a fire yourself with a fire extinguisher.
- Fires can spread incredibly fast, so it is imperative you evacuate as quickly as possible and call the fire service on 999.
- If your clothes are on fire you should *Stop Drop and Roll* to smother the flames.
- Try to keep windows and doors closed when evacuating (only open them to escape)
(1) Stay close to the floor if there is a lot of smoke (smoke and hot gases rise)
(2a-2b) Make sure you check doorknobs with the back of your hand before opening them - the fire could potentially be on the other side.
(3) Get out of the house as quickly as possible.
Follow a planned escape route.
(4) Call the fire service on 999 as soon as possible
from outside your house.
FireAngel resources for housing providers
FireAngel has a variety of guides and eBooks that can be used as handouts for landlords when providing fire safety in rented accommodation. To provide tenants with information on what to do in the event of fire, we’d recommend printing p.10 of our Social Housing eBook.
To provide general fire safety guidelines to tenants, we’d recommend printing part one (pages 1-30) of the Fire Safety In The Kitchen handout. This outlines causes of fire, high risk personnel, fire prevention in the home, safe and well visits and carbon monoxide.