Fire Safety

A guide to keeping safe in the kitchen

A comprehensive guide and resource for tenants and landlords on fire safety, including how to keep safe in the kitchen, the most dangerous room in the home.

Having completed all the required documentation and safety checks before a tenant moves in, it is important a landlord can trust 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 they can keep in their home.

In this guide, the first section will focus on a handout for tenants looking at 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. The section section will offer safety guidance for landlords, including risk assessments, installing alarms, CO legislation, interlinking alarms and kitchen safety guidelines.

FireAngel Quick User Guides For Homeowners and Tenants

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 smoke alarms must be installed in a location that is compliant with BS 5839: Part 6 and relevant Building Regulations.

When installing a smoke alarm, ensure you refer to a relevant handout or user manual. As the above illustration demonstrates, both optical 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. These areas may be sensitive to a false alarm from dust, water vapour or cooking fumes, so it is recommended to install heat alarms in these areas instead.

Smoke alarms, multi-sensor alarms and heat alarms should be installed:

  • 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 smoke 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.

Testing and cleaning

Once installed, it important that tenants/homeowners continue to test and maintain smoke and heat alarms on a monthly basis. The testing process for FireAngel alarms is as follows:

  • Ensure the alarm is properly attached to the base plate
  • Press the test button in the centre and release – this will give an audible alarm consisting of 2 cycles of 3 loud beeps, then stop automatically
  • Test alarms monthly

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 smoke or heat 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 (see figures 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. 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.

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), 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 landlords and tenants

FireAngel has a variety of guides and eBooks that can be used as handouts for landlords when providing fire safety in rented accommodation.