Whether you are a registered social housing provider, or are involved in the specification, procurement or general maintenance of social housing, there are a variety of useful online fire safety resources that can be referred to throughout your management process.
In this ‘social housing toolkit’, we’ll show you some of the best links to use when working within this field. These include relevant legislation and regulation, British Standards, useful fire and rescue services (FRS) links, and GOV resources.
Fire safety legislation and regulation
The Housing Act (2004), enforced by the local housing authority, provides a means to assess housing conditions for all landlords and housing owners. The Act introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) - a risk assessment approach that identifies 29 potential hazards to consider in domestic accommodation. The Act also includes the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), management regulations for HMOs and home information packs.
The Fire Safety Order (2005) defines the minimum fire safety standard to which landlords (or other responsible personnel) should keep their premises. It requires the carrying out of fire risk assessments in flats, common areas of HMOs, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation. This reduces the risk of fire, but also ensures tenants can leave the premises safely in the event of a fire.
The building regulations are the standards to be met in the building construction. The ‘approved documents’ give direction for satisfying these regulations, and Part B (volume 1) specifically covers fire safety matters for dwellings.
This document, produced by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) coordinates local housing authorities (Housing Act 2004) and fire and rescue authorities (Fire Safety Order 2005) to provide one guide for providing fire safety in residential accommodation.
Fire and rescue services (FRS)
Social housing providers should look at their local Fire and Rescue Service website for advice and support.
The CFOA postcode finder allows the location of your local FRS, and links to their website.
Some FRS websites have great resources and tools to support, such as the Derbyshire FRS. For instance, they have an ebook giving fire safety advice for social housing, alongside other housing providers (e.g. landlords, managing agents, private dwellings)
With regards to fire safety risk assessments, GOV.UK provides two documents for social housing providers to consider.
This gives advice about undertaking a fire safety risk assessment for those responsible for sleeping accommodation.
This provides guidance for completing a fire safety risk assessment for those responsible for giving disabled people a means of escape.
Important to note: Fire safety advice for risk assessments is also in other resources such as that provided by LACORS, or ‘Fire safety in purpose-built flats’ produced by the Local Government Group.
GOV.UK also provides simplified resources for fire safety risk assessments, as seen in this infographic. This is easy to read and refer to, and is therefore good for distribution.
This fire safety regulation defines the requirements needed to ensure electrical equipment is safe to use in the home.
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1998
This defines the level of fire resistance needed for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other upholstery products in the home.
Published by the British Standards Institution (BSI), there are a variety of British Standards (BS) that apply to social housing. Some of the most significant to refer to include the following:
BS 5839- 6 (2013) - “Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises”
This document is a key point of reference for social housing. It recommends the best practice for fire detection and fire alarm systems, and outlines the grade and system of the house that define what alarm system is needed (according to risk of fire, type of building and characteristics of tenant).
BS 5266 (2016) - “Emergency lighting. Code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises”
Required under the FSO, this document provides guidance on the application of emergency lighting in the event that normal lighting is interrupted.
BS 9999 (2008) - “Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings”
This standard provides fire safety guidance for design, management and use of buildings to achieve an appropriate level of fire safety. The standard includes a whole lifecycle of fire safety - starting with the building design, assessment, and maintenance of a fire detection system.
Under the Equality Act (2010) and the Regulatory Reform Order (2005), social housing providers have a duty of care to ensure disabled tenants are not placed under any disadvantage, and can safely leave the building in the event of a fire.
BS 5839- 6 (2013) - this recommends low frequency sounders to provide a higher level of protection to those most at risk.
Social housing has a high proportion of vulnerable tenants. This link summarises how a social housing provider can mitigate/eliminate fire safety risks in the home for these tenants.
Where to install fire alarms
BS 5839-6 (2013) - provides recommendations for siting and installing smoke and heat alarms in existing and new-build properties.
BS EN 50292 (2013) - a guide for the siting, installing and maintenance of carbon monoxide alarms in the home.
Social housing summarising links
For a simplified overview of fire safety legislation and guidance for social housing, download the SONA by FireAngel ebook
Alternatively, to clarify regulations, the risk assessment, and standards for fire safety social housing read the blog post Fire safety standards and regulations for existing social housing.