Landlords have been accused of doing little to improve fire safety in their rental properties following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
New research, released to mark the start of Fire Door Safety Week 2017 (25 September - 1 October), shows that since Grenfell Tower tragedy in June, just 23% of landlords have been in touch with tenants in person to discuss fire safety measures.
The new figures also reveal that 40% of renters do not have a clear fire escape route displayed in their building, and more than a third (39%) admit they have seen fire doors propped open.
The study also found that 21% of tenants have noticed damage to their building’s fire doors and almost a fifth - 18% - of renters have reported a fire safety infringement or concern to their landlord but 24% of respondents waited weeks for a response.
More than half - 55% - of tenants questioned said that they do not feel fully prepared on what to do in the event of a fire and almost a quarter - 24% - of adults surveyed feel more nervous/anxious about living in a rented flat since the tragedy and the issues it exposed with regard to fire safety.
Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week, said: “This new research shows that landlords and building owners still have a long way to go meet their fire safety responsibilities. It is astounding to learn that in the last three months so little has been done to address the concerns of tenants and residents.
“Many people do not realise that the real job of a fire door is to hold back fire, smoke and toxic gases, delaying the spread around a building and keeping the vital means of escape route clear. They only work properly if they are specified, manufactured, installed and maintained correctly, and of course, closed when a fire breaks out. This is especially important in high rise buildings, houses of multiple occupancy and other types of shared sleeping accommodation.
“Checking fire doors should be part of a regular fire risk assessment. This should examine all aspects of fire safety management, including active and passive fire protection measures, signage, means of escape and the specific fire plan procedures.
“There needs to be crystal clarity about the Responsible Person and a total transformation of attitude towards fire safety of tenants in rented accommodation. Our focus for Fire Door Safety Week in this pivotal year is to ensure all landlords and tenants have the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe.”
This Fire Door Safety Week, the British Woodworking Federation, has put together a free toolkit of resources to help landlords and their tenants with fire safety advice. Further information for private landlords and building owners can be found by clicking here.
Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner who oversaw the fire and rescue service’s response at Grenfell Tower, commented: “London Fire Brigade fully supports Fire Door Safety Week. This is an important campaign which drives home the potentially life saving role that fire doors play in buildings, especially residential buildings such as tower blocks. It is extremely concerning that the lives of the public and our firefighters are still being put at risk by poorly maintained fire doors and people acting irresponsibly by removing self closers or by keeping doors wedged open.
“Good fire doors help stop fires from spreading. Fires that spread put more lives at risk and I would urge everyone to check that their fire doors are properly maintained and kept shut. Remember they don’t just protect you, but everybody in the building.”
Paul Fuller CBE, chief fire officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and chairman of the Fire Sector Federation, added: “It is simple. Proper fire doors save lives, but only if they are correctly made and installed, and certainly not if they are wedged open or in disrepair.
“Too often our officers walk into a building and see fire doors in an appalling state. We do what we can to advise and enforce the responsibilities of a building owner, but it is time for the Responsible Person to really step up. That's why we are supporting Fire Door Safety Week - there can be no excuse, all the resources you need to promote door safety are there on the website and free to download."